Monday, July 30, 2007

Second Time Around...

I am currently reading "Salad Bar Beef" by Joel Salatin for the second time. I don't really want to become a person who worships Joel Salatin, but I wanted to get a second look at his ideas on grass-fisished beef. This time, as I read, I highlighting some of the more interesting or important things ... partially for my own use and partially for my dad. I'm hoping that he will read it as we are going to be entering some some this farming thing together.

One thing that I have really noticed as I reread "Salad Bar Beef" is that there are lots of different take on this whole "grass-finished beef" idea. Gene Logsdon's book, "All Flesh is Grass", takes a pretty experiemental approach to finishing beef. He writes about experimenting with different grasses, legumes, and other ideas. The thing about Mr. Logsdon is that he is not really a "full-time" farmer (meaning he does not get all of his income from the farm) and that he likes to try different things. His book was very informational for thinking outside of the conventional farming "box", but also seemed like a bit more involved approach.

Mr. Salatin is very much straight forward in his approach. He tells people to get animals before reseeding pastures, adding lime, or anything like that. Also, he preaches the idea of growing in your fields what grows in your ditches and leading the animals and the natural progression rehabilitate your pastures. I think maybe Mr. Salatin would agree with my uncle's quote, "reading is good, doing is better". He wants people to start doing and then see what needs to be done in order to increase the lands cattle carrying capacity.

Finally, as I reflect on the field day that I attended last week I am really seeing the many different approaches to making a living raising cattle through value added or sustainable practices. The DeCook's ranch that I visited last week was around 800 acres and they were raising 500 head at a time on their ranch (cows, calves, yearlings). I would say that they were practices a sort of rotational grazing but not really a managed intensive grazing approach. For example, when we visited they had 200 dry cows on about 40 acres. He was planning on leaving them there for four or five days. In talking with him it seemed that his greatest limiting factor was water.

Which brings me to a few things that are really on my mind right now. First of all, I'm very interested in learning more about and putting into practice some electric fencing ideas. I liked what I saw at the DeCook ranch and I'm interested in the things I read in Mr. Salatin's book, but I would like to see things in practice. Secondly, I would really like to learn more about watering systems so that I don't have that limitation on my setup (if I ever have a setup!). And finally, I would like to read some more books to continue to get a different prespective (or talk with other people). I am thinking about checking out some of Allan Nation's books, of the "Stockman Grass Farmer", but I'm having a difficult time choosing. If anyone does actually read this blog let me know if you have any ideas.

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