Cappers Farmer Blogs > This Old Farmhouse

Savanna Restoration Series: Part 1

By Lori Havens


Tags: Farm On The Hill, Oak Savanna, Savanna Restoration, Wisconsin Savanna, Driftless Region Farm, Rotational Grazing, Management Intensive Grazing, Bryan Havens, Lori Havens,

summer breeze

Lori HavensIt’s been a busy summer up here in beautiful Wisconsin! The work has been overwhelming, exhausting, sweaty and dirty, but we think it’ll all be worth it. So what is it that we’re doing here at Farm on the Hill? Welcome to Part 1 of my Savanna Restoration Series!

mapFarm on the Hill is comprised of 40 acres of mixed woods (5 acres) and pasture land. We are located in Richland Center, in the southwest quadrant of Wisconsin. Our area is part of Wisconsin’s “Driftless Region,” an area that was left untouched by the glaciers that scoured (and flattened) much of the Midwest. As a result, the Driftless Region is characterized by beautiful high hills and deep valleys, with rivers meandering through and around.

A sign with history of the Kickapoo River Valley

Farmer Bryan Havens

Driftless roadway

Our farm sits at the very top of one of the beautiful ridges … thus our name, Farm on the Hill. In the hot summer, we appreciate the breezes that often blow here on the ridge top. In the winter, we’ve learned to live with the blowing snow and icy blasts.

pasture

farm during the winter

A look out our kitchen window gives a glimpse at this land’s past and present. Our woods are a mix of native hardwoods (like oak and walnut), fruit trees (apples), and brambles (wild blackberry). These five acres represent the past.

orchard

woods

orchard

The remaining 30 acres were cleared long ago for pasturing dairy cows … decades ago this farm was a dairy farm! (Remember our barn renovation, posted last year here at Capper's Farmer?)Though the previous owner of our farm didn’t use it as a dairy operation, he did continue to grow mixed grass hay … completely free of chemicals … which he cut and baled year after year. In nature, animals grazing on the grasses would have accomplished the cutting function. They also would have added critically important fertilizer to the land, replacing nutrients taken by the grasses. In our situation, a hayfield without chemical inputs (for which we are grateful) and without grazing animals to fertilize it made for some tired-out land … you cannot just take and take and take from the land (harvesting hay) without giving back.

pasture

pasture

The fix? It’s really quite simple … put some animals out there and let them do what they love to do!

The reality of making it happen? Not so simple.

(Read Savanna Restoration: Part 2 HERE)

(Read Savanna Restoration: Part 3 HERE)

(Read Savanna Restoration: Part 4 HERE)