Sunday, April 28, 2013

What's happening on the farm . . .

My son Jim is going in on the beef cattle.  He has come up twice now to help with the operation.  Today they pulled wire for the first of four paddocks for the whole herd.  There is still a lot of work to be done, but at least we can get them off of the dairy cows' paddocks.  We need every paddock for the dairy herd, because we are about out of hay, and the pastures are nearly a month behind schedule.  At last, they are greening up, but the grass is still short.  When the grass is short, the cows get a smaller mouthful of grass with every bite.  Diary cows need good feed pretty much continuously to provide milk.

We need a few days in a row of sunshine and some warm weather.  I hope the forecast is correct - we have two days of 80º weather coming this week according to Weather Underground.

Did you know that if every farmer farmed the way we do, they would stop global warming?   Being raised outside on grass, not grain means that the animals are sequestering carbon all of the time.  Their hooves tear up the land (no tilling necessary) and of course they are dropping loads of manure and urine on the soil.  This means that they help to recover marginal land, such as the sandy soil I have here on my farm.  There are a couple of books out there now on the subject.  More and more farmers are starting to use rotational grazing.  It is cheaper, too.  And the meat is healthier for us.  Is there a down side?  I suppose, because it uses a lot of land, but if you put them on marginal land that wasn't good for raising any crops without using massive amounts of chemical fertilizers and weed killers (poor soil grows a lot of weeds), then I don't even see that as a downside.

The farmer who sold us the Highland cattle said they are very good foragers, and they will love all of the little small trees that are dotting the east side of my farm.  That land has just been sitting there unused and ungrazed since 2001.  This is what the paddock looks like today.  I am hoping to see lush green grass free of trees in a month!

Pasture today - lots of small trees for fodder!

Jim and Steve adding insulators to the T-posts

Jim and Steve got three strands of wire strung, and all of the insulators put on the posts.  The Highlands are not quite as docile as the dairy cattle, and so they need stronger containment.

Steve cut trees to make our corner posts.

Jim, Steve and Tashi surveying the job.

They strung the three rolls of wire on a spindle.  Clever!

Getting started with the insulators.

Steve explaining best practices to Jim.

Jim setting off to begin the job.

He's getting the hang of it.

The finished product.  Job well done!

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