Last corn

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We had a surprise from the market Friday, two bags of sweet corn. Getting corn when I am breaking ice off of waterers is certainly a treat. Somebody had a few bags hidden.

Anyway, the cows were more than happy to have a last blast of summer. Miguel and I hand fed to make sure everyone had a chance to at least get one.

Despite the hard frost this morning , the grass is looking pretty good. I am hoping to go pick up our first load of hay in a week or so and we should surely have plenty of grass till then. The real trick is how long will we have grass into the winter. This is our first winter where we are using the new management techniques so it’s going to be a learning experience to see how the grass does. According to the experts, in our climate we should be able to graze all winter long and not need hay. I am doing all I can to help that be true. First by buying an entire winters worth of hay which per Murphy’s Law should mean I end up needing no hay. We will see.

Brrr!

37 degrees this morning and our first light frost. I fired the wood boiler last night and filled it a little over what I thought it would take. It was dead empty this morning and we were heating by backup LP heat. Oops. I guess I forgot how much wood it takes when its for real cold. Since it will be even colder tonight I will make sure we have enough wood tonight.

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With all the cold suddenly hitting I made sure the new baby calf was ok. Spunky was moving slowly and the calf wasn’t visible so there was a moment I was worried but he was laying in the grass right where mom was keeping him. I got him up and moving and made sure everything was ok.

Spunkys baby

Today is the day. Spunky had been looking a bit bloated the last few days and her bag seemed to be coming in. Here is a picture from a couple of days ago.

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There had been some conversation on the farm that maybe she was due earlier than we think. Looks like that is correct as last night Spunky had a little boy.

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Here is the full family. Spunky, Samuel, and the new baby.

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Everyone was quite enamored with the new addition.

I saw him nurse, pee, poop, and run. He is a perfect cute little boy.

Looks like its time to break out the milker and blow the dust off the milking parlor.

Beef. It’s what’s for dinner

I was reading my latest Stockman Grass Farmer paper and they had a really nice article on how to know when your cow is ready to finish. A lot of it had to do with fat and how to judge it which I knew. However there was another tip about looking at the inside of the back legs. I hadn’t really looked at Sam that way before until this morning. I gotta say, the boy has some nice legs. He’s closer to finish weight than I really thought. I think he will be ready to go by the time we go in hay which will be about perfect as far as feeding. However since I can’t fit any more meat in the freezer we either need to sell some pork or I need to buy another freezer. Probably both.

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Here you see the cows in the paddock just outside the barnyard. The grass is still pretty thin so we are doubling the paddock sizzle giving them plenty to graze. The clover is recovered in these paddocks and the cows are going straight to it first.

The big move

The beauty of having the cows in the front pasture is that they are right by the house and its like having them in my front yard. The downside is that moving the cows from the front pasture into the next pasture is the largest move we make. We have to move the cows from the far end of the front pasture all the way to the other side then through the barn paddock and into another pasture.

I am either getting smarter or luckier because this time we timed the move when the inmates were here. I also had Spork and the Princess to help me. With all that help, and a bit if strategic hot wire, everyone was moved without a hitch. In fact it went so well that I didn’t even get a picture.

The interns are getting better at this grazing thing than I am. They are making decisions I didn’t even look at yet and are keeping the paddock sizes right for the grass. Today John pointed out that the grass in the bottom of the upcoming weeks pasture is thinner than the grass at the top of the hill. I had noted that on the last rotation but hadn’t said anything. John picked it up and was already adjusting the upcoming paddocks for the individual conditions. Its great to see these guys getting everything down. It’s also great to see that individual attention is making a difference on the pasture.

While giving a tour to a 4H group this week, I was showing the soil conditions in our front pasture. Much like the other paddock which had completely different conditions, this pasture had about 1/2″ of dry organic material on top then about 3/4″ of topsoil. We have created almost all of that topsoil in one season utilizing nothing but grazing with no amendments. Pretty amazing.

Cow update

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The cows continue their march across the pasture directly in front of our house. The grass is thick and good looking although the cows are mowing it down as fast as they can. The front pasture is small so the cows can cover a paddock pretty quickly.

After 4 days gone, the cows have killed the last of the phosphorous and also the vitamin V4 in the mineral feeder. I used my last bag of V4 this morning and the phosphorous was done before I left. I have a large replenishment order that is supposed to be here this week. I don’t think they have hit their schedule yet so I don’t have my hopes up but maybe this time I will get lucky. The cows have gone through 250 lbs of phosphorous in 30 days. Obviously it’s the mineral they were lacking the most. I just have to keep them supplied and the balance should return to the farm. I keep telling myself that when the bill comes.

Forbidden fruit

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Yesterday the cows received an unexpected treat. Usually they are fenced out of the 6 acres of woods bordering our main pasture since the woods are a protected area. Per my agreement with Wake County soil and water I can “flash graze” protected areas for one day.

Yesterday when it was time to move the cows to the next paddock, I instead opened the gate to the woods. The cows ran in like kids getting out of school the last day before summer.

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This morning it took Spork, the gator, myself, and the inmates to get everyone back to the pasture. Cows really enjoy being in the woods. No worries though. This weekend they will be in the pond flash grazing it so there is another treat coming.