Stockpiled Pasture a Beautiful Thing


November 28, 2017

One of the geldings munching on stockpiled pasture. They are still grazing as November comes to a close. Let’s face it, making a small farm profitable is not always easy. Keeping horses can be a drain on a man’s wallet. Using grass and working with Mother Nature is a wonderful, profitable option that often gets overlooked.

We made hay while the sun shined this past summer. We mowed the pastures as the animals grazed them down. The mowing keeps weeds in check and encourages growth in the grasses and clover. The paddock in the picture was allowed to grow after the last mowing in late August. The cattle grazed it once in mid-September for about 36 hours. Yesterday, the horses were turned in to this pasture to graze until the autumn rains or snow make the soil soft.

Most of the regrowth that the horses are eating is endophyte free fescue. This warm season grass gets more palatable and sweet after it has been frosted. The cold nights in the past few weeks ended our growing season, but made this magic grass sweet and much more to the horse’s liking. I will be able to graze this for about two weeks. So, that is feed for four draft horses for fourteen days! No fuel to harvest it. No time invested to harvest it and the horses are spreading their own manure!

I have one more paddock of stockpiled grass. It is a stand with lots of trefoil in it. The sheep will spend the winter there. They will graze much of the winter as long as the snow doesn’t get too deep. Again, no fuel to harvest the hay for the sheep. They can eat at their own pace, spreading their droppings as they go. I will have to feed a little hay I am sure, but our flock of ten ewes should have eighty to ninety days of grazing in that paddock. I will pull the sheep off in late February or early March, but the worst part of winter should be over by then…and the sheep will have pretty much fed themselves all winter!

I encourage the small farmer to look for opportunities such as this to increase profits or at least increase efficiencies in your daily labor. Think outside the box and … stockpile a few ideas of your own!

Had a Little Help
November 25, 2017, 2:40 am
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November 25, 2017

Today, my grandson helped his daddy clean the horse stable. I am itching to help myself, but progress is slow on the new knee. I couldn’t help but snap a picture of his little wheel barrow ready to head for home, once the chores were done.

I remember helping my grandpa with things, sometimes even when he didn’t ask. I remember using and losing tools as I fooled around making his job easier. I probably dropped nails in the driveway or put things away that he couldn’t find for weeks, but I was helping! This little guy pays attention to detail. He knows where things go and doesn’t like to see anything out of place or gates left open.

Another grandson is helping his daddy catch the raccoons that mob the corn fields. They have been successful too. It truly is nice to be getting the help I need while I recover. My dear wife too, has taken on additional chores. I hope that I can at least take over for her before the bad weather sets in. The chickens, cats and dog appreciate her efforts as she is their main caretaker…along with the daily water tank filling.

So, the farm continues to run, thanks to everyone helping out.

Watching and Waiting
November 19, 2017, 9:11 pm
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November 19, 2017

Thanks and hats off to a friend of the farm, “Justin” who came and hung our blinds back up. This small job has been on my wife’s wish list every since we had the windows put in the house. I am not much of a finish carpenter anyway. Looking up through my bifocals makes any job tough and I simply chose not to do this one. (sorry honey)

I did make coffee, offer advice and encouragement while watching the young man work. I leaned on my cane for part of the time and iced and rubbed my knee for the rest of the time it took to hang them. He. Justin, also completed a small roofing job. He weatherproofed one of the overhangs. These were both awesome jobs to have completed.

Our sons keep stepping up to do chores and such. Our youngest does the daily stuff, which even though reduced, is still a bit to do. The last two days of rain has everything wet and flooded. The animals even spent some time looking out from their sheds watching it rain relentlessly. Our late season drought is surely over. Our ponds are all almost overflowing again. The woods and fields have been sufficiently watered…. just in time for SNOW! I guess I will watch that too!

The Cows Approve
November 13, 2017, 7:46 pm
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November 13, 2017

Today, as I watched out the window, our son Don finished the east side fence of the new feedlot. He worked in the rain some as he drove nails and cut boards, but he stayed at it. The fence job was all complete by the end of the day. The last thing he did was open the gate and turn the cows into the new space. They all approved and promptly christened the area with fresh manure!

It’s tough for me to watch other people do my work. In this case I could see from the window as I held on to my walker. My knee healing well, but still plenty sore, reminded me that it was a good day for watching! I can honestly say, that I approve too! Thanks Donnie


Here We Go Again!
November 8, 2017, 8:35 pm
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November 8, 2017

After a crazy summer recovering from right knee replacement surgery…you guessed it…Now, I am recovering from left knee replacement surgery. I had hoped to put this off for several months, perhaps even a year, but my knee was too bad to wait. They tried several things to get me by, the last attempt was a sort of stabilizing gel. They say it works for 7 out of 10 people, but I was one of the other 3 I guess. I wore through that gel in seven weeks.

This recent surgery also required lots of extra work thanks to my waiting a bit too long. I had ground down the joint to the point where my leg was crooked, the cartilage was gone and the only constant was the re-occurring pain. Hard to walk a furrow behind a horse drawn plow or dang near anything else!

The farm is ready for winter, but I still will be relying on family and friends to keep everything running smooth. I am thankful for my support group including the doctors, nurses, aides and farmhands. I am especially thankful for a patient and loving wife.  This journey has been a bit longer than we first thought, but the destination is in sight. Even as I recover today, just three days post surgery, my knee is more stable than it has been in years. The pain currently is a bit rough, but I know in a few weeks the pain that I have endured for years will be much improved.

A life of hard work, carrying beef on my shoulders, rolling logs, walking rough ground, running stairs and walking on concrete took a toll on my joints. I wouldn’t have missed a single day of the life that I have chosen so far….but I do look forward to wearing out this new set of “pegs” by farming and working horses, playing with small children and walking arm and arm through the rest of my life.

A Job Worth Doing…
November 5, 2017, 8:05 pm
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November 5, 2017

How many times have you heard that a job worth doing, is worth doing right.? It always makes me laugh as I clean the barn…that is one job that just won’t stay done! I find it almost therapeutic. Cleaning the barn daily, makes it look and smell nice. I am sue the animals appreciate it too. In fact, I think they pay me with manure for keeping their beds clean.

I like the feeling of satisfaction I get as I apply fresh bedding and sweep the barn. It pleases me to know that all is well. The animals are in their stalls eating or have just been turned out to pasture as I clean. In any case, the clean, neat barn, gives me a sense of pride.

This wheelbarrow load of sawdust, old hay and manure is headed for the compost pile. It won’t get spread on the fields until next spring. This is the beginning of next years fertilizer. The pit is now empty waiting for the animals and I to fill it up again. The repetitive barn cleanings, just like daily chores, make up a farmers life. I love this life and wouldn’t change a thing!