The grass continues to look great. Here you can see today’s paddock on the left, yesterday’s on the right. Its obvious where the cows have grazed as it’s very brown vs todays paddock which is as green as spring grass. In fact the poop from the cows is getting somewhat runny like it does in the spring which is interesting since there is a fall flush of grass much like there is a spring flush. I read about the fall flush but with our old grazing methods you never saw it. One more thing that is working just like the grazing experts said it would. The brown would be bad in your suburban yard (homeowners associations would be unhappy) but for our pastures its gold. This is dried organic matter which is matting down and decomposing. This brown grass will be next years healthy soil.
Today we are meeting Ryan with NW Poole Well company to redrill an old well that was out of service when we moved on the farm. We are going to hopefully hit good water and then combine this well with a solar based pump that will now water all of our cows from solar pumped water from a separate well than our main farm well. As we grow our herd they are going to drink more and more water so we are planning ahead for that growth. An adult cow can drink as much as 30 gallons of water per day and lactating cows can double that need. Since we have a lot of lactating cows we have pretty sizeable water needs that will only grow. Thank goodness the cows don’t take showers. 🙂
This project is in partnership again with Wake County Soil and Water and Teresa Hice from that office who continues to help us on the farm. I met Teresa at a Keeping the Farm” workshop some years ago and she has been working with us ever since helping with our erosion issues, land retention, etc. The next keeping the farm workshop is January 29th and if you farm or want to farm I highly recommend you attending. It’s well worth the day.
I am not sure where people get the signs they need for their farms. NC law states that in order to be protected by liability protection laws you have to post a sign or signs stating the law. The agri tourism association has their law available as a sign when you join, which I did. However the new law states it must be posted as well. All I could do was go have one made. I guess the good news is its a really nice sign mounted on a metal board so it should last a long time. Also fortunately for us there is only one way on and off the farm so its easy to post a sign that everyone sees which makes life simpler.
Seems like there is a business opportunity for someone to sell ready made signs for farmers.
This morning sunrise as we finished our chores. The Princess is the photographer.
The cold weather has abated somewhat this morning although it was still 45 degrees when we started. The cows were up and ready to move this morning as the Princess and I made our way over to them. All 24 cows were looking good and even in the pre-dawn light they went straight to eating. The paddock they are on today which is the beginning of the main pasture close to the woods as we come across from the pasture by the golf course road has some really good looking grass. They should have a belly full by mid-morning.
We also fed the pigs this morning what we didn’t get them last night. The scarfed it up in just a few minutes and were back begging for more. They will get a good load of food this afternoon so the fat little piglets can get a bit fatter. They are getting seriously round, like little oinker cherubs.
We have another farmer interested in buying a couple of our piglets plus we need to take two of the pink pigs and have them processed. Then we are saving two pink pigs for the hog killing class. That will leave us with Penelope and 7 kids for the winter. With our Latin source of winter food, we should be in good shape for the winter after all the changes.
Yesterday the cows were on a sliver of a paddock that had pretty thin grass to boot. Inmate John had rightfully suggested I take a look and maybe move the cows early. He was right. Here they are onto their new grass. They were most pleased and went straight to work. I am really looking forward to when we can move the cows more than once per day. They really go to town on new grass.
Miguel has been doing some reconnoitering for me and has turned me onto another market for produce. This time at the Latin market. I am slowly working my way to Rednexican but my Spanish was woefully inadequate for this trip. Fortunately Miguel met me after work and he charmed El Jeffe of the market into letting us have an entire pallet of food with promises of more to come. And some apples and pineapple for the kids. And a lead on a tractor rental. I had to get Miguel out of there before he owned the stand. He is a charmer.
So this solves our dilemma of how to feed this winter since the regular market has shut down. The Latin market is open all winter so we should have a steady supply of fresh food for the piggies and the cows.
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.
Instead of yesterday where I put too little wood in the boiler, last night I put too much. Couple that with one of the 2 heating zones somehow defaulted back to electric heat and we had WAY too much wood heat last night. Fortunately we have an open boiler so it can’t build pressure and it simply steams off the excess. Unfortunately we steamed off about half of the 700 gallons of water during the night. This morning has been a bit if a 3 ring circus getting things back in line.
A wood boiler is very cool, when it works. Its a pain when it doesn’t.