Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Quand Je Vois Mon Derrière . . .

Yesterday I spent an hour and a half drag harrowing the far end of the Lower Pasture.  When I was done it looked like this.  Half the grass lays in one direction and half in the other, depending on the direction I was driving.

This is our drag harrow.  Because it’s not quite as wide as the tractor, it means I have to make quite a few circles around each pasture, but that’s okay—it gives me plenty of time to think.  


This is the goal of drag harrowing: to break up piles of manure and spread them out a bit.  This way birds, insects, and weather will break the manure down faster.  That means a more even “application” of our natural fertilizer, a reduction in parasites, and it also makes regrowth grass more palatable to the animals.  Horses, especially, will not eat the lovely rich green clumps of grass that grow up around piles of manure.  Who can blame them?!

One of the enjoyable things about drag harrowing is watching the birds.  Swallows and other birds come swooping around me, catching bugs I've stirred up out of the grass.  Hopefully the crows will come along soon and scratch through the newly disturbed manure.  It's all good!

When I’m drag harrowing, I try to cover the whole field.  I can look at the “nap” of the grass and see where I’ve been.  See the lighter grass at the right of this photo?  That’s where I’ve been.  I just line my right tire along the edge of that and drive straight ahead.  On the left of the photo you can see the reddish-brown grass that is laying in the opposite direction; that’s where I came back.  The medium-colored grass in the middle is where I haven’t been yet.

And looking behind leads me to thinking . . .

Many years ago when we lived in Africa, a friend told us something he witnessed in a church in France.  A young American girl was studying French before going to Africa as a missionary.  At the end of her year of language study, her French church asked her to stand up and talk about her past life (in French, her “vie en arrière”).  They offered her a translator, but she felt confident of her French and declined.  Here, then, is what she said:

“Quand je vois mon derrière” (“When I look at my derriere”—and yes, it means the same thing in both languages!)

“Je vois que c’est divisé en deux parties.”  (“I see that it is divided in two parts”)

“L’une est noire et l’autre est blanche,” (“One is black and the other is white”)

“Et entre les deux il y a une grande abîme.”  (“And in between them there’s a great chasm.”)

Now you can see why I say it's dangerous when I get thinking!  Who knows where my mind will take me while I'm driving up and down the field?  It's bound to be somewhere harrowing!


  1. I'm no expert but that is the narrowest harrows I have seen. Can you rig up something a little larger to cut down the number of circles you do?

    But you rock for doing this.

  2. Having used it a couple times, I'm in complete agreement with you, Brent. I think we can buy a second one and they make a way to hook them up side-by-side. We need to look into it, especially now that we see it's actually effective!

    I still need to post an explanation as to why we NEED to harrow, as opposed to your intensive rotational grazing where the animals do the job themselves. When we decided IRG didn't work for us, we knew we were trading one kind of work for another. Any way you look at it, farming is WORK! :)

  3. We could still do with harrowing to spread out all the fertility. I even have a field harrows to do the job but I haven't got the motivation to use it yet! Too many other things to do first.

    I think agmantoo uses a pipe and some chainlink fence, but he's way more heroic than we are.

    Oh yeah - can you change the name of our blog in your blogroll. We should switch it to Thanks a lot.

  4. I feel you on too many things to do! The only reason this field got done is because it's one of flat ones I can do, and Herb is still doing almost all the feeding, etc. while my leg recovers. I don't think I'm brave enough to tackle the hills. We already tried chain link fence wired to a metal fence post, but the wire we used on a 4x4 post to weight it down kept breaking, and without some weight the fence just bounced around. Agmantoo must be handier at putting it together than we were. :)

    Your name is changed on my blog roll. You're welcome!


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