Our planting is ALL done! After nearly a month of dealing with rain, ground that was way too wet, broken down equipment and work schedules giving us grief….we managed to get ‘er done! I have to say it is a huge relief knowing that all that seed is in the ground. Now we can watch the grass grow…no pun or funny lines intended!
Now it’s back to life as normal…well, as normal as farming life goes anyway.
Since we are talking grasses today, I have to tell you all more about this rotational grazing that we are doing now for the cows. We don’t have it set up yet as an intensive grazing program, but we are headed there. Rotational grazing, as described by a fellow farmer, is developing as many “spring” grass pastures as possible. By rotating paddocks the cows are always eating new growth grasses, which are higher in many of the nutrients required by cows for body condition, growth and milk production. It also eliminates much of the manure stock pile that would normally occur if the animals were kept in the barn, thus eliminating the need for spring, summer and fall manure spreading. The animals naturally take care of it themselves! This is also a natural way of rebuilding the soils due to the established root growth and when then animals walk, the break off organic matter that enriches the soils. There is much more that can be explained about the grazing…but for now, I will leave it as just the basics. We will save the full benefits of rotational grazing for a blog write up all on it’s own.
Right now, we have three paddock areas divided over five acres that we sectioned off using temporary fencing for the time being. We monitor the paddocks daily to see what type of regrowth has occurred on the two paddocks that are out of rotation and also the paddock that is in current rotation.
Once the current paddock has much of the grass eaten down to a couple of inches, it looks an odd greenish/brown color…that is the time we know to transition the cows into the next paddock. The photo above was the last few moments of the cows spending time in paddock two. They were then transitioned to paddock 3. Currently, we are running between 10 to 14 days per paddock. That allows for 20-28 days until the cows are returned to each paddock. It all depends on regrowth and forage availability within a paddock.
This past month full of rain has actually caused the paddocks to get ahead of us. The grass is regrowing so fast that the current paddock is growing back faster than they can eat it down. We are going to transition the cows from paddock 1 today, tomorrow we will mow and bale what is left within the paddock while they are grazing on paddock 2. Since the grass has grown so fast, we see no other option but it will begin to supply the forage materials we will need come winter time. Remember, this is all a learning experience for us so if we do it wrong…we will let you know so that if there is someone else out there who is looking at rotational grazing like this…maybe we can save you a headache or two!
Our newest Dexter bull calf, aptly named Beefy (because stocky just didn’t seem right) is growing fast!!!! You should see him out running, jumping and kicking. He is amazing to watch. He has a VERY protective group of cows out there with him…including our Jersey.
It’s good to see how protective they are of him. It makes me worry that much less about him out running around with the herd. All of the girls treat him like a spoiled child! If he is laying down in the grass while they are foraging, one of the girls will go check on him about every 15 minutes…poor boy probably feels over-mothered.
We are currently watching and waiting for arrival number two! #47 aka Annie is showing major signs of progression. We are monitoring her very closely because this will be her very first calf. I am hoping that she will cooperate and have him on a nice day like today…AND a time when I can get a video of the birth! She is such a sweet girl and that would just make my year to be able to capture such a momentous moment for all of us.
Well….speaking of which…I think it’s time for me to take another pasture walk and check on my girls with cameras in hand! Hope to share some great happenings the next time I come back!!!!