RicelandMeadows


Rolling in the Hay
June 15, 2018, 7:29 am
Filed under: June 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

tendercrop2018

June 15, 2018

The haying season has finally begun. The rain delayed me some, but yesterday I got the first hay of the season mowed. The tender grass and trefoil will make some very nice hay for the horses. I mowed this crop with the tractor. The horses will be used to fluff the drying hay, as well as, to rake it into windrows.

We have quite a bit to do. Just like any journey, it begins with the first step. It looks like a good stretch for hay making. Early next week a guy will bale and wrap a good amount of our cow hay. That baleage will be used in the coldest part of winter to keep the cows in top condition. The hay that is shown in the picture will be baled dry and stored for winter feeding of the horses.

hay2018

This is some of the nicest hay that I have ever cut. The sheep wintered in this field. They grazed the grass I left here for them all winter. They set the grass back a little making it slower to mature allowing for later cutting. They also fertilized it all winter and early spring. I will call this a grazing success. I should also mention that 12 sheep grazing all winter only ate 4 bales (800 pounds) of hay that I made. The rest of their diet came from the stockpiled grass in this field. The hay was available to them 24/7, but they chose to paw through the snow to eat the grass.

So the 2018 hay season has begun. We will be busy for awhile as long as the sun shines. All is well here at Riceland….we are just taking care of the Meadows!



Managing Grazing
June 21, 2016, 12:32 pm
Filed under: June 2016 | Tags: , , , ,

multigraze

June 21, 2016

Cows and sows graze white clover. This pasture was getting a little ahead of the sows. I turned the cows into it so as to slow the growth down a little bit. I guess manage is a better word than slow it down. I am making the best use of the pastures as they grow. Multi-specie grazing gives me a great advantage when it comes to pasture management.

The cows also help to keep the permanent horse pasture under control. The grasses grow faster than the horses can eat it. The cows stop by from time to time and spend the night there. They eat what the horses leave. I will soon mow the rest. This early summer with very little rain, makes pasture management a delicate job this season. If i graze the grass too short, I will pay all season as it struggles to grow. If I leave it go to seed, it also stops growing.

The trick is  to use as much of the grass as possible before mowing to keep the weeds at bay. So far so good, but it is only the middle of June. There is a lot of summer left for our grass. Hopefully, herd management, timely mowing and multi-specie grazing will maximize natures bounty….all while letting the animals spread their own manure!



Managed Grazing

cowgraze

June 7, 2016

We have had a strange spring, but it sure has made the grass grow. Today, I moved the cows into the horse pasture. The finicky horses are not the best grazers. The cows and then the sheep will help eat it down before we mow it. A good timely mowing will set back weeds and get the grass growing again.

I am amazed at just how much feed is made available this way. Seventeen “animal units” will graze this space and get all they want. An animal unit is measured as one adult cow. So, a draft horse equals 1.5 animal units. It takes five sheep to make up one animal unit. The rule of thumb is one acre of good pasture, per animal unit, per season. We are ahead of that curve thanks to good management, compost and rain.

Our stock is all in great shape after coming through a mild winter. The pastures have all been excellent. I even grazed around the buildings out back for a week, forcing the cows to clean up some grass and weeds they would usually turn their noses up at, but it helped me by lightening the workload. They ate it fine and look good for doing so.

I encourage the small or beginning farmer to mow his pastures. If that is the only thing that you can afford to do, it will help. It will make a giant difference! Your stock will appreciate it too. Even weeds are much easier eaten at the young, tender succulent stage. Mowing, is all part of good management and you , your stock and your farm will benefit from doing it.

cowhowdy



Signs of Spring
April 11, 2015, 8:43 pm
Filed under: April 2015 | Tags: , , ,
Wild Onions

Wild Onions

April 11, 2015

My sheep were sold last summer, so my fields are void of baby lambs this spring. I do miss the soft bleats on the wind. I am sure to miss the bouncy babies playing in the pastures. The mothers calling their offspring is also only heard in my memory. It rings bittersweet in my head. I will indeed miss the youngsters, but not lambing time right on the heels of maple syrup season.

I look for other signs of spring. Wild onions growing in the leaf litter of the woods, daffodils blooming in the sun and buds on the trees. The grass is starting to green up. The cattle snip green shots of the new grass. The eat it anywhere they find it. Their manure shows that they found plenty of it 😮

Spring has sprung. The peepers are singing much of the night. The spelt is bright green and growing in the fields. The compost pile steams steadily as the red wing black birds fly about. Garden seeds wait to be planted and the strawberry beds start to wake up. Soon the hot summer sun will bake us in our skin, but for now it kisses the grass like a mother ewe nurturing her baby lambs.