Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hello My Friends ...

This morning some one said to me, "May 7th!" With a look of confusion on my face I admitted that meant nothing to me, but then they were quick to point out that was the last time I made a blog post. (Oddly enough it was about me wanting a truck and wanting to sell my Expedition ... I still want a truck, but haven't sold the Expedition yet.) I wish that there were just tons and tons of things that I needed to catch people up on, but really things have been rather mundane ... and very busy all at the same time. I will try to take some time this week to share some of the changes that have been happening. The most exciting one though is probably the fact that I'm now making three moves per day with the cattle.

I'm not sure what to call it because it really isn't Mob Grazing because of the limiting factors of the pastures, but it is at least spreading out some nutrients and getting the cows on fresh grass often. The limiting factors that I'm talking about are the very thin and not super lush stand of grass that I have right now. After 14 years of no management and plenty of weeds and brush taking over the stand of warm season grasses is not very thick and it doesn't take off very quickly in the spring. Because of that I end up putting the cows in smallish areas, but they eat off the grass very quickly and then need to be moved. Also, as you can see in the picture above I started off feeding a little hay to keep them in a small area longer, but I just found it was too much hassle and didn't help the way I wanted it to. There isn't a large concentration of manure being put down ... but, it is a start!

I'm also beginning to get an idea of just how much grazing is possible on the farm and I'm liking what I'm seeing especially as the pastures begin to improve ... which has to happen at some point. Tomorrow I'll try to post a picture of what the ground looks like after the cows have been moved and then what it looks like a couple weeks later. Like I said, the warm season grasses don't take off, but there is some regrowth happening and I think over time the clovers will come back and more.

So far the down side has (besides the thin pastures) has been the watering. I have a large tank on a hay rack that I move around with them and a waterer that I drag to each paddock, but I don't like how it's working out so far. I do have some plans though and I'll share them as I think through them.

Hope this counts as a post :) And, I'll share a little more as the week goes on.

6 comments:

Teresa said...

Sounds like a lot of work. I know how hard it is when there isn't enough pasture for the animals. I am thankful that I now have enough for all my animals.

plat3 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
plat3 said...

I am using a mini-mob of four Holstein bottle calves that I bought in Jan. Since they are calves I have to make sure they get enough good grass. This means I can't get the full mob effect in their paddock, but I can make sure their manure and trampling is done in a smaller area each day.

Tim Garratt said...

Good luck - I have posted a blog today about the plight of farming in the UK. http://timgarrattnottingham.co.uk/2010/05/31/farming-a-dying-trade/

Rich said...

There is an old post about using a subsoiler to pull waterlines at:

http://diaryofafarmer.blogspot.com/2008/02/back-on-boardbut-now-sick.html

It looks like you commented when it was originally posted, but have you thought about just using a plow to plow a trench (just shorten the top link as short as you can so it is trenching instead of plowing), then laying the water line in instead of pulling it?

Here is a link that explains the method:

http://www.ytmag.com/articles/artint218.htm

It would be installed too shallow to avoid freezing in the winter, but if you blew out the water each winter before freezing temperatures (similar to blowing out lawn irrigation lines), it would be a relatively inexpensive way to supply water in the summer.

In the winter, you would probably be strip grazing stockpiled pasture and/or feeding hay in your winter lot, so you wouldn't need a year round water supply in your pasture anyway.

I once used this technique to install an electrical line and was able to get about 18" deep. I used a single bottom plow, shortened the top link as much as I could, centered the plow between the rear tires, plowed once, then turned around and plowed the opposite direction. I did a little shovel work to clean up the bottom of the trench (not really necessary for a shallow water line), then used the tractor to cover the line. I had the trench dug and the line covered in less time than it would have taken to go to town to rent a trencher and it didn't cost me anything.

I would suggest going slow and plowing shallow at first, so you don't break anything (when I did it I was using a worn out plow and had a welder handy).

Gremlina said...

we have a similar adventure going on--starting our own farm. it's just the bare land right now, with bees. Can't wait to see what comes. & we also need a truck!

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