Thursday, March 25, 2010

Comeback Farms :: Chapters 4-6 Book Report

In chapter four Greg Judy talks a lot about the importance of using purchased hay to rebuild your pastures. He uses a bale un-roller that he pulls behind his truck to spread out the hay and the nutrients (along with seeds). There is also a good picture and a nice description of us bale un-roller in this chapter ... if I was handy it looks like it would be pretty easy to build. I'm still trying to wrap my mind the whole bale un-rolling process and how it would work in the winter and the muddy times on our farm, but I do love the idea. Another thing I have questions about is if there is much hay wasted on the ground ... although I'm guessing Mr. Judy has enough cattle to clean up quite a bit each day instead of just laying down on it. One last thing from this chapter ... I sure wish I could by grass hay for $15-20 a bale like he mentions! Grass hay around here is $45 (for pretty bad stuff) and up. Of course all hay is at a premium this year because of the weather.

I can sum up chapter five in just a few words. When there is a drought don't graze your grass to the ground. In Mr. Judy's words, "Resist Opening Gates During Drought" (that is the chapter title). This is a reminder that I've seen in quite a few places and I think it is sinking in for me. Hopefully we don't have a drought any time soon and hopefully if we do I remember the good advice! The problem with opening the gates he writes is that you are giving up on your grass and hurting it not just for that season, but in the future as well.

Controlled burning is the topic of the sixth chapter and I have to admit that this is something I will probably never mess with. We don't have a lot of acreage right now, our house is in the middle of it, and there is plenty of conflicting opinions out there on the merits of controlled burning. Mr. Judy has burned in the past, but he writes that he has changed his mind recently because of the harm that it can do above ground and below ground. I guess burning can damage the roots all the way down to three feet.

If you read this book (and I think you should) you will find that Mr. Judy shares a lot of stories throughout. I love that personal touch because it makes him seem like a grazing human instead of a grazing superman! Although he is light years ahead of me he still is learning and making mistakes.


DJK said...

Have you read any Joel Salatin?

Rich said...

I feed our hay out in the pasture in the winter in bale feeders. Even though I move the feeder 40-50 feet, most of the damage I see is due to the concentration of cattle around the feeder when it is snowing or raining.

I have been thinking that I will feed in feeders when it is relatively dry, then when there is a chance of rain or snow, I will unroll the bales to keep the damage to a minimum. Just cut the strings and bump the bale with the tractor, once it starts unrolling, you should be able to unroll it with either the tractor or by hand (unrolling downhill is usually easier).

To control waste, just unroll the amount you think you will need in a day and you should be able to pick the rest up with either the tractor or your un-roller.

As long as it isn't excessive, any hay left on the ground isn't technically wasted, but is actually extra organic material or bedding.

Were any links to un-rolling devices listed?

Rich said...

To add to my previous comment, there is another way of feeding hay that I have been planning to try that Jim Gerrish writes about at:

Since alot of the damage I see when it is wet and muddy is from the tractor driving back and forth, I am thinking that I can put a couple week's worth of hay out at a time in an area of the pasture that is also stockpiled for winter grazing. Moving an electric fence has to be less work than starting up the tractor every other day (and less damaging to the pasture).

Christina said...

Can you say where you got your book from? My local library is unable to Interlibrary Loan it, and it's beyond my budget on Amazon (like $80!) You've made it sound so interesting I'd like to read it!

Walter Jeffries said...

I'm surprised he says the burn damage is so deep. I wonder if there was too much fuel. With light burn overs the fire moves fast and does not even warm the soil. I have done bonfires on stumps where the fire burned for days and then the stump has regrown. Apparently it did not burn deep enough. Soil moisture and type might be another factor.

DJK said...

All, try for all of your books. SO CHEAP!

Rich said...

Some of the reasons to argue against controlled burns comes from Holistic Management and/or Allan Savory.

If I have it right, you are supposed to manage your grasslands towards the goal of what you want (healthy perennial grasses, etc.), instead of what you don't want (excess brush or weeds). Eliminating the weeds and brush with burning doesn't necessarily result in more grass since if your grassland was healthy you wouldn't have the brush and weeds in the first place. In other words, when you burn, you are only treating the symptoms not the cause of the illness. The brush and weeds are telling you that your grazing management needs to be altered to favor healthy grass growth.

There is an article about the subject at:

There is also a YouTube channel with some Savory videos at:

The Beginning Farmer's Wife said...

I got it for Ethan for his birthday. Try ACRES USA -

It was the cheapest I found and MUCH more reasonable than Amazon!

Elizabeth Greene said...

You can buy the books directly from Mr. Judy via It is half of the cost of amazon.

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