We started a bit of tree trimming here at the farm. And by a bit we only started with 7 acres and by trimming I mean we are clearing out about 60% of the trees. In other words it’s a pretty major job. John, Miguel, and I got a few hours of work in before the rain drove us out of the woods. We put about 20 trees on the deck and cleaned out an old road that well use to skid our logs out to the deck to then load onto trailers and take to the saw mill. The end result will be our first silvopasture paddock which will hopefully give us summer forage of high quality grass and the ability to graze our cows in the shade during the heat of the summer. If this experiment is successful, then I may end up planting a grove in some of our existing pasture which would give us high value trees and keeping the ability to graze thereby doubling our production on the same land. It’s an experiment for now. Next summer well see what type of forage comes up. I already know the cows will love it. The greatly prefer being in the woods.
Here is a bit of John on the skidder.
We are doing a little pruning on the farm. We are reestablishing a perimeter fence that was old when I moved here. It’s now down and broken in most areas and we are going to just replace with new high tensile wire. Since trees and whatnot have grown up over the years we needed to do a bit of trimming back. While I have an axe and a machete I figured I would go Tim Taylor and get 100 hp of diesel grinding death. Other than getting the machine stuck once, the whole job only took about 2 hours instead of two days so that worked out great. And now we have a 6 foot wide strip that looks like a park where everything is ground and mulched.
One interesting opportunity that came out of this grinder is that there were some piles of old wood that had been dumped into the woods.
I needed to grind up these piles just to clear the way. It’s sometimes confusing to understand how organic materials (trees and leaves) can become dirt. Well through the magic if horsepower we were able to shortcut the process by several years. We went in about 20 seconds from what you see above to this.
This is nearly perfect material, produced naturally except for the final grind which only sped the process up. This is how you make healthy soil. No magic, just lots of organic material.
What the pile and the dirt looked like after the machine was finished. If this was out in the open it would be ready to plant a garden. As it is its in the woods so it will cover back up with leaves and continue to build soil depth.
I paid a lot of money and spent a lot of time attending a class taught by Ian Mitchell-Innes to learn about grazing. Living Web Farms has recorded a very similar class in Florida and published the entire thing on youtube for free. If you’re reading our blog and interested in cattle, watch this video series. It will save you quite a bit of money and time over what I had to do. You can go to the first video in the series here.
This isn’t your typical 8 minute youtube video. There are hours and hours of classroom and field time documented. I can’t believe that they are putting this out for free. For a grazer, this is valuable information.
But you can’t take the farm out of the kid. My crowd, Spork, The Princess, and Bok Bok in Nashville haming it up. Of course dear ol’ dad stayed home to take care of the farm and work.
And with it being 24 degrees this morning, work I did. Pushing 800 pound bales of hay did warm me up nicely though and the cows were surely appreciative of some grub this morning to help with the cold. They also appreciated the section of woods they could get in to keep the frost off of them. We will leave that section open to them this entire rotation so they have some shelter from the winter wind and weather.
This morning I may have secured our new bull. I have been trying to buy a lowline Angus bull from a friend for a while. It looks like I may finally succeed here in a month or two. This will work perfectly as I can sell Benjamin while he had plenty of calves yet to produce and I can start working the lowline genetics into my herd. Plus with the new milk cow coming, I have to sell Benjamin before she goes into heat after she delivers her calf in about 5 months. I don’t want to loose another cow to Benjamin’s huge body. He is fine for angus but just too big for a Jersey. If anyone wants a beautiful bull, let me know. He eats out of my hand and has been perfect since day one.
So the little red truck that I have on the farm was loaded up and taken to paint this past weekend. It’s expected to be about a month before it’s done. I had to get it painted because:
1. It was only primered red and it needs paint. Primer sucks up moisture and these old trucks rust like nobody’s business. Therefor if I want to have a truck long term I need to get that protective paint on it.
2. It will look better painted. Not that I am overly concerned with my looks but if you are going to tool around in an old truck it should look decent. Having actual paint should make quite a difference in how the truck looks.
3. SWMBO didn’t ask how much it costs to paint a truck. If she’s not asking then I figure my budget must be available.
4. The real reason I am getting it painted is that our beautiful and smart baby sitter who has babysat for us since she was 12 is getting married in March and she wants to drive away from the ceremony in my truck. I couldn’t put off painting the truck any longer knowing she would be in it on her wedding day. So out came the interior and pretty much anything that wasn’t bolted down was put into storage and a stripped shell of a truck was loaded onto the trailer and taken to Ignacio for refit and paint. That’s where this picture was taken. That’s me driving, just off camera is the trailer I am about to load onto. For those of you that don’t know me. I am 6’5″ and you can see I am barely looking over the steering wheel because there are no seats. Miguel said I looked like a cholo with my “lowered” truck.
The truck is being sand blasted back to bare metal then fixed back up to hopefully look like new. Oh, and the little red truck won’t be red anymore. It’s going to be teal, the color of the wedding. I will post update pics as I have them.
I came home after work to discover that we had a calf who had gotten separated from her mom and was on the wrong side of the fence. Unlike goats, cows after making their great escape immediately want to get back to the herd so I happened across this calf pacing the fence and bellowing to her mom. We had about 15 minutes of daylight left and I had two Princesses playing on the front steps of the house. No interns, no Miguel, even Spork was at a sleep over. To make matters worse Bok Bok at 5 had never really worked cows before. Then to top it all off, this was a ninja calf. Admittedly not one that had caused any issues before but it was out so there you go. About 30 seconds in I realized I should video rather than instruct because as you can hear, The Princess immediately took over instruction after I had given them the game plan. I had to stop filming because I was needed to get the cow going but the rest of the event looked like this.
I had to run and back up the girls one time because Bok Bok didn’t quite get what her job was and the calf ran right by her. I stopped it and turned her back. Then The Princess pushed the calf along the fence, past the corner, down the fence, around the open gate, into the barn yard and then closed the gate. All in her pajamas and all while instructing Bok Bok on what to do. I helped a tiny bit and then she didn’t need me anymore. Also all while taking on a cow that outweighed her by 300 pounds with no fear.
Yeah, I was proud.
Despite the 80 degree day on Friday, I had to go get my second load of hay. 17 bales, plus the 21 we already have purchased. This should get us into January with what we already have. We need one more load of 17 to get into March. Hopefully we can stretch to make the last load last till the pastures have had a chance to fully recover. Keeping the cows off of the pasture just as it comes out of dormancy is tough. They want all that green grass and we want to stop feeding hay. We will see how long we can make it go.
The good news is the new (to me) truck and trailer are doing well. I was burning more fuel and getting only 8 bales before. Now I get 17 per trip and do so in style.