Friday, November 09, 2007

New Pasture for the Stoneyfield Herd

I absolutely love to read. I have enjoyed reading my entire life, and not a day goes by without me reading. I usually am working my way through a couple books and magazines at the same time and take a chance to read whenever I need a break. But, as much as I love to read about becoming a farmer it was so great today to actually get down to the farm and do something!

Yesterday we went down to do some much needed work. With the expansion of our herd, our pasture that was wonderful for a heifer and a steer was not nearly enough for a herd of thirteen strong. We had kept them in the smaller lot and fed them hay since we brought the new ones home because my family was going to be gone and the Amish neighbors were going to be doing the chores. We just wanted it to be easier for them to water them and such and not have to worry about them getting out. But, today was the day to go out and expand the pasture. I would say that we encompassed about seven or eight acres of land to go along with the one and a half of the other lot. They are connected with a lane right now, but I plan on closing them out of the lot and building a water wagon so that they can just stay in the new pasture. There is actually room for the pasture to expand out there so hopefully they can winter in that area. Also, I think it is a good place for them to calve because there are some trees that they can get into to get out of the weather, and it is one of the more dry areas of the farm.

Our fence is just a single wire electric fence with rebar posts every ten paces or so and t-posts at the corners and on top of hills. There is a five-strand barbed wire fence on one side and a woven wire with one barbed wire at the top on the other side. I'm pretty confident this single wire will keep them in (it's at Dexter nose height), but if they do decide to get out, there is a lot of room for them to roam before they hit our boundary fences. Plus, where they are, the grass is literally greener on the inside of the fence because we let that grow since we knew we would be fencing them in there and had mowed the rest. It goes up quick and seems to be effective!

All in all, it was a beautiful fall day to work and my only complaint was that we didn't have enough time. With the farm over an hour away and a job that does require my work here, I didn't have as much time as I would have liked. I had hoped to also build a pen to wean off one of the bull calves (soon to be steer) and the black heifer that came from Illinois. It wasn't going to be my ideal weaning set-up, but I don't want those calves on their mother all winter long so I will have to make do with what we can. The bonus of having them weaned is that the family can spend more time with them and get the heifer calf used to being handled. I plan on turning her out with the bull (that doesn't live here yet) next summer for a spring '09 calf.

One bonus from today is that I was able to give my dad a list of materials I need to build our chicken shed for them to winter in. We thought we would try and keep our chickens over the winter in our backyard, but we need to build a permanent structure for them to keep them somewhat warm and put a lamp in so they will lay a few eggs hopefully. He is making his way through on Saturday so I should be able to get started on that next week.

I put up a couple pictures with the post today. The first picture is of our little dun bull calf and the new black heifer (no name yet). For a while I was thinking of letting the little boy develop a little since he was looking sort of beefy, but now I'm thinking he might be short-legged which can be a bad thing in Dexter bulls. I may have him tested just to find out if he carries the unwanted gene found in some short-legged bulls. The second picture includes the two mentioned already and a couple candidates for freezer camp in the future!

Like I said ... it was great to actually be doing yesterday!

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