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RBR News | May 2, 2014

Posted in Ranch Report

Around the Ranch
As we wait for this year’s final spring frost to pass, we are preparing to plant out our new garden space at the ranch. We have selected an area of pasture to convert to vegetable production, but before we can plant seeds, there are several steps we need to take to get it ready.

Most modern agricultural techniques of preparing new ground for production call for heavy tilling with big machinery and chemical herbicides to prepare the soil. These methods have several drawbacks; firstly, we will not use chemical herbicides since we are pursuing organic certification. Secondly, heavy equipment can damage the soil structure, as well as lead to more soil compaction, which we want to avoid. Finally, running equipment requires lots of fossil fuel, as well as specialized equipment and labor. So, we have experimented with a safer, cheaper, and less mechanical method: let the pigs do the tilling for us!

Pigs love to root (dig with their snouts). Even the youngest piglets on the property attempt to follow this instinct to stir up the ground with their noses.  They dig down looking for bugs, roots, flora, bark, and any other treats hidden below the dirt. In doing so, they turn up anything growing and leave behind freshly tilled soil full of organic material and a layer of their own fertilizer (manure).

Once the pigs have worked their magic, there is still some soil preparation to complete, but they have already accomplished the most demanding task. This method leaves us with happy pigs, reduced carbon emissions, and time to focus our labor on other projects.

Available Products
RBR’s pastured hens are laying lots of fresh eggs! Pasture-raised, Animal Welfare Approved, non-GMO, chicken and duck eggs are available for purchase at the Ranch Monday-Friday 9AM-5PM, and Saturday from 9AM-1PM.

~ Harper Kaufman, Agriculture Assistant

Join us for Farm Tours Monday – Saturday at 11AM.  For questions about Rock Bottom Ranch please email Jason at jsmith@aspennature.org.