Another grass in our pastures identified; dallisgrass

When we had the NC Cattleman’s Association come to visit, we had an unexpected bonus. Along with the cattlemen, we had some grazing experts who joined the group and did some instruction with our pasture as the model. I not only finally learned how my grazing stick works, I also found out what another one of our grasses is in our pasture. We know we have Bermuda grass, crab grass, fescue, and Johnson grass. What I didn’t know was we also have a lot of dallisgrass. I’d never even heard of dallisgrass so I did some searching on Google. What I found didn’t make me feel good at all. The first 10 or so links on Google were all about how to kill dallisgrass. It sounded like it took 2-4-D, napalm, or pigs to get rid of it. It also sounded like everyone was trying to kill it and it was just behind kudzu on the lovability scale of flora and fauna.

Then I was lucky enough to come across this forum. Looks like some people love dallisgrass, namely cattlemen. That’s a relief to me because a key part of our management strategy is to support what grows naturally vs. trying to seed or cultivate certain types of grasses. What grows naturally is pretty hard to kill with drought or pressure. Cultivated stands are a different story. If we had the kudzu of grass we’d have a problem but I should have known it was ok, as looking at the grazing and looking at the cows performance is all that I need to know about our management system. Our cows are fat and happy, dallisgrass or no.

Final update on Dottie, our milk cow

Home jersey milk cow

Dottie, when she was only normally skinny. Not super skinny.

We’ve finally heard back from the vet. Dottie is ok as far as any testing goes but she isn’t gaining any weight to speak of. We’ve addressed her teeth, given her food on her own, and stopped milking her but she’s still skinnier than I’d like. For now we are going to keep her on pasture with her calf and continue forward not milking till we see some improvement in her body condition. Not the most profitable way to handle things, but certainly better than overtaxing Dottie. When and if we start milking again, we’ll have that news here as well.

Krispy Kreme doughnuts?!

Breakfast of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and chocolate milk

The kids, having a completely non-healthy breakfast

If you’ve read our blog any amount of time, you know that we are way over the top on nutrition, especially as it concerns our kids. So what gives with the above picture? Was this a proof-of-life pic from their kidnappers? A photoshopped picture to torture SWMBO?

Nope, it’s just a breakfast out with dad. You see, before I learned about nutrition and began farming seriously, I ate all the things that “normal” people ate. While most of that food is gladly in my past, there are some foods that are a treat and we indulge on rare occasions. Well, not rare if it’s ice cream. Being from North Carolina, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, specifically when the “Hot Doughnut Now” sign is on, is one of those treats. I mentioned to my girls something about doughnuts and through conversation realized that while I’d take Spork when he was about 6, I’d never exposed my girls to the horrible goodness that is a warm Krispy Kreme doughnut. I told them I’d take them someday and proceeded about the rest of my day.

The next morning I received a phone call while standing in the pasture from The Princess, asking me where I was and when we were leaving for Krispy Kreme. Since Justin had an entire couple of days of experience under his belt, I left him to run the farm and took the kids to Krispy Kreme for a doughnut.

Making doughnuts at Krispy Kreme

Seeing doughnuts made is a treat at a real Krispy Kreme location.

The kids (and even I) got a hot doughnut and had a large time talking to the other patrons and watching the doughnuts go through the machine, visible through the glass in the store. Justin managed not to kill himself and the farm was ok when we got home. All in all it was a morning well spent.

Just in case you’re wondering, Spork and I both felt queasy after eating a doughnut. Apparently we aren’t cut out for this much sugar and carbs anymore. The girls seemed to be ok. I figure we’ll go back again when they are dating, which should be in about 30 years. :)

Also, as you can tell by the pictures of Justin in other posts, he needs to eat something more than he does. We sent him home with some produce from the market, some grape juice from the pressing, and the rest of the dozen doughnuts. I turn 70 pound calves into 1100 pound cows. Surely I can get some meat on Justin before his internship is up.

Grapes!

Grapes, ready for harvest

Grapes, ready for harvest

Today we harvested our Muscadine grapes that grow here on our farm. When I moved to the farm in 1980, the grape vines were already here and were already very old. Over time they were neglected and nearly died off but a few years ago we rehabilitated the vines, built new trellises and began a multi-year process of bringing them back into production. This year was our first payoff year and today we harvested our 2014 grape harvest.

Eating grapes

What’s the most important part of picking grapes? Eating them!

We had lots of help with our grapes. All three kids, SWMBO, Dustin, and Justin were all on hand to pick grapes. A goodly portion went to pay the help but we still managed to harvest a heavy load.

Wildflower and The Princess, picking grapes

Wildflower and The Princess, picking grapes

Spork had his own way of getting to the grapes.

Spork had his own way of getting to the grapes.

Dad did his share of picking.

Dad did his share of picking.

Spork and our haul of grapes. At least what was left after everyone snacked.

Spork and our haul of grapes. At least what was left after everyone snacked. We had about 3 bushels, not counting the scuppernong grapes we also picked.

Apple press, being used as a grape press.

Apple press, being used as a grape press.

Remember the apple press? We realized that with this many grapes, we needed a larger press to handle the volume. The apple press we had restored was made for volume so we pressed it into service as a grape press.

The girls working the press.

The girls working the press.

We all got a workout on the press, Justin maybe most of all.

We all got a workout on the press, Justin maybe most of all.

It took three of us to work the press most of the day. But then we had the idea of tie the press to the gator, so that it was anchored securely and we could concentrate on just cranking the press down. Worked like a champ and we made good progress after our rope work.

Of course, the kids continued to help.

Of course, the kids continued to help.

Everyone had their fill of grapes today.

Everyone had their fill of grapes today.

The final result? Four gallons of grape juice, plus 10 gallons of hulls in the two fermenters starting to percolate away. And some sticky, happy children.

#6, Sprinkles, had a new calf, #46.

Baby angus calf, #46, and mother, #6

#6 has a little calf, #46.

When Justin and I went to move the cows this morning, we found a new little calf roaming around the paddock. She was already up and moving, dry and nursing so she must have been born late in the afternoon or during the night.

Baby calf, #46.

Up close and personal with #46. Prior to getting her ear tag.

Baby calf, just born.

#46 getting a break from all the cows pushing and shoving, and instead coming over to help us feed.

New born calves are so cute. They bumble around and let pretty much anyone pet them. At least for the first day after they are born. That’s why we make sure to get out there immediately and get an ear tag and a band on them if they are a boy. We hadn’t made it to the barn to get an ear tag yet to tag this new little girl, but while we were feeding she decided to come over and check out the truck. I had plenty of opportunity to pet her and give her a good rub. She’s cute and will be one of our momma cows in the future.

#46, new baby calf.

#46, now officially numbered with her new earring.

Baby calf and mother.

Mom checking out her daughter after we’d put the ear tag in. 

NC Cattleman’s Association comes to our farm

NC Cattleman's association meeting

50 people, representing 5 counties.

On Friday we hosted a pasture walk for the NC Cattleman’s Association. We were expecting about 20 people but when the buses started arriving we had over 50 for the tour. So many that it was tough to keep everyone together and to be heard by everyone as I explained what we do and how we do it.

I spent some time showing where we’d repaired our pasture with the help of Wake County Soil and Water. Fortunately everything was holding nicely and growing well so we had something that looked good to show off.

Everyone was very nice and asked really good questions. It was an honor to host the Cattleman’s Association meeting. I just wish I’d have more time to visit with people and to learn more about what they did in the rest of the meeting.

#9 heads back to the pasture and an update on #32, Boyd

#9 #ninjacowfarm #bloat heading back to the pasture after having her trocar removed. Erin came up and did the doctoring work this time.

Today we brought #9 out of the barn and put her back in the head gate so we could remove the trocar. While we had her we put some surfactant in her rumen just to be safe and then we released her back into the wild. Well as wild as it can be in the paddock with everyone else. She was glad to get back with the herd and didn’t seem to miss the spa treatment at all. #9 will be joining #40, #28, and #15 who will be culled this year. It’s time for culling as there is no need to keep cows we know we won’t keep over winter. The hay is just too expensive for no gain.

#ninjacowfarm #32 #boyd our up and coming bull. Boyd is the son of #11 and Benjamin. He will be our herd bull in a couple of years. He is already looking very muscular and big.

Not everyone is going away though. Boyd, our little bull born this winter is growing like a weed. He is already showing some pretty amazing muscle definition for a little calf. You can see who is daddy is and that he’s going to be a chip off of the old block. It’ll be neat to watch him grow up and see how he turns out.

#32 #boyd #benjamin father and son side by side.

Father and son, Boyd and Benjamin. Boyd doesn’t look like any of the other calves at this point. His rump is much rounder and more defined, like his fathers. He also has definition in his thighs unlike the other calves. Wildflower wanted to keep him as a bull. Looks like she has a good eye for these things.