RicelandMeadows


Stockpiled Pasture a Beautiful Thing

stockpiled

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!



Stockpiled Pasture
October 20, 2014, 9:38 pm
Filed under: October 2014 | Tags: , , ,
White clover blooms against a colorful backdrop

White clover blooms against a colorful backdrop

October 20, 2014

The cows are eating their last pastures of the 2014 grazing season. I have a few more paddocks with some stockpiled grass for them to enjoy, until the winter snows blow. They are in the most east pasture now, munching on third cutting hay, left to grow to nourish the plant roots. The frost has signaled the grass to go dormant, so lightly grazing the hayfield won’t hurt a thing.

The wooded pasture in the photo is the next hamlet for the cows. The woods provide some shelter from the late autumn winds. The grass lush and green will provide some very good meals for my soon to be momma cows. One young lady had her calf last week. She is still camera-shy, but we will see about that!

My horse pasture grows short. The horses are just tonight starting to be supplemented with hay, a little each day at meal time. They eat their oats and clean up the hay by morning. I am sure winter will soon be here. Our logging job, cleaning up the old fallen oak begins Wednesday. The horses and equipment are ready to go. I just need to roll up some broken fence and the job can start.

The horses will be given an old hay field with some corn fodder on one end as a jump lot this winter. They will paw down through the snow and eat the stockpiled grass and the leaves from the corn fodder. The frozen ground will keep them from damaging  the soil and plants beneath their big feet. The area is more for excercise than for feeding. The grass is just a bonus.

The cow’s last pasture for the season has waist-high grass and red clover standing in it. A large grove of white pines will provide shelter and protection from the elements for the cows and their calves. Once the pasture has been eaten down, they will spend the winter under the barn overhang. This last pasture will provide a playground on nice days, once the cattle are moved to the barnyard for winter.

Having stockpiled grasses, left to grow tall until after frost, is like having money in the bank. It keeps the feed bill down by providing many free meals. This approach to self sufficiency, is just one more reason why I farm the way I do. Low inputs help keep the business end profitable…without profit, there is no farm…at least not one “in the black.”