Bringing the Late Iron Age to Life

Preparing a field

This post is going to be a bit of a mix between what I think my persona would do in the 4th/5th century versus what is considered common practice today – at least for backyard gardeners/farmers.

4th/5th Century Practice

Today I tethered the goats out in the field I want to start getting cleared for planting. I made sure to overlap their areas, but not too much. I’ll keep an eye on them during the day, while I’m out working another section. I can’t let them loose, because, well, I haven’t had a chance to get the walls built up enough to prevent them from straying into areas I don’t want them eating down to stubble. So, tying them out it is. They have easy access to water and shade(should they feel the need, the little dears), even on their tethers. I figure a few hours a day should get the vegetation cleared down pretty well. Once the goats have pretty much cleared out the majority of the vegetation, I’ll turn the pigs out into the same field and let them root around to their hearts’ content. That should hopefully get all (or at least a majority) of the bramble roots out. They’ll also be churning up the ground for me, making it easier to get at the more stubborn roots. Once that all is done, then I can get in there with my hoe and shovel, taking care of the last little bits and then, finally drag a few bramble branches across, to even out the ground a bit. Then I can finally sow my seeds!! Drag the branches across one more time to cover the seeds. Then I can let the field rest and let Mother nature do her thing.

Of course, I’ll make sure to give the proper offerings to the Goddesses and Gods to help make sure I have a bountiful harvest.

Modernly

I have to get the mower out and down to the bottom of the yard (onto the flat section). At this point, I’m going to have to start with it fairly high to start with – simply because of the burgeoning growth that the early rains and mild winter have ‘blessed’ us with. After that initial mowing (more like bush-hogging), then I’ll reset the mower blade lower and go in for the kill, so to speak.

Future cereal plot

Future cereal plot

One thing that has been recommended, in order to control weeds, is to cover the area chosen with clear plastic (2 – 4mil), once the vegetation has been reduced to no more than about an inch high. They (being my local Soil and Water Conservancy District personnel) say to use clear plastic instead of black plastic because the black plastic will absorb the heat and not transfer enough of it to the ground – to raise the soil temperature to 145°F – 150°F to a depth of a few (IIRC, six or so) inches. This will ‘cook off’ any weed seeds that may be buried in the soil. Now, me being me, I have to wonder about the soil life that is living in this ‘to be covered area’. Will they have enough of a chance to move out of harms’ way, or will they end up getting cooked, too? Things that I wonder about.

*chuckle* I wish I could have a couple of goats and some pigs, but since I live in town this is not possible.

What are your thoughts?