Even chickens won’t eat dog fennel. Maybe I will stake a goat out in the pasture and see what he does. 🙂
Today I refilled the phosphorus for the first time. All of the other minerals are completely untouched. The phosphorus was completely empty. Yesterday while giving a tour I saw one of the cows actually eating the phosphorus so this is the first time I’ve seen the cows use the feeder. Again this morning I saw the same cow use the feeder for a different mineral. I don’t know if any of the other cows are using the mineral feeder, I sure hope so
I checked a cows pH this morning and found that it had dropped half a point from when I started the free choice feeder. Their pH is still too high but we are making progress.
So we have begun experimenting with Joel Salatin style chicken tractors. This is the first small scale unit, it’s 1/4 the size if the ones Joel uses but we just have a few laying meat birds in here for now. So far so good. The tractors keep the birds protected and moving. Now that I’ve seen they can survive a few days, I am going to park them over some dog fennel and see if the chickens will strip the fennel. If they do, then these will be my new fennel elimination machines. Fingers crossed.
Todays paddock on the left. Yesterday’s paddock on the right.
The unseasonably cool weather continues. We had showers come through yesterday evening bringing even more rain and a drop in temperatures. The high today is 83 and we don’t get back into the 90s this entire week!
Rain and sun and cool weather are the recipe for grass growth and we have plenty although the cows have done well in the smaller paddocks and there is a definite line of where they have eaten and where they have not. They may be overgrazing a bit but after all the waste of the last rotation, I figured we tighten them up a bit this rotation for comparison.
The mineral feeder is in the same state. The cows continue to hammer the phosphorous and ignore all the other minerals. Anyone has yet to see the cows actually use the feeder for more than a scratching post but somebody is eating the phosphorous. I will need to add another bag this afternoon.
The cows continue to improve in their condition and are looking better every day. The calves are growing nicely and look like they will be good cows although they definitely want to be out of the paddock. Except for when they are nursing, they spend 70% of their time in an adjoining paddock with their peer calves. Being independent, right next to mom. Kids, whaddya do?
Sam, our red Devon, continues to go through the hot wire. Fortunately he didn’t pull the entire fence down this time but I found him out in the main pasture by himself. I got him back in easily enough but we are going to need more juice to keep him corralled I am afraid. The Stafix x6i just doesn’t have enough to keep him in.
Darryl pointed out to me this morning that the pigs have broken their waterer. It was pouring water out into the paddock at full stream so that’s on the list to be fixed. I was using PVC. Maybe I need to go back with cast. Of course thats more of a freeze issue in the winter. It’s always something.
I mowed an area yesterday before the rain to get the dog fennel down. I know I am supposed to let these pioneering plants do their thing but its so thick you can’t walk through it. I mowed a section in front of the barn close to the main gate. I then raised the mower (this involves a shop and a 3/4 air wrench, its not your dads Snapper) and am planning on mowing at least part of the side pasture at this higher setting. I know as soon as I mow thats its going to stop raining and turn 100 degrees so I hope you all have enjoyed your cool summer. My thought is I will mow one section close, one section high, and leave one section alone. Then we’ll see how the pasture looks later in the season. The fennel isn’t going away anytime soon so may as well experiment.
And if the fennel isn’t enough, the bitterweed has started growing in the pasture. It’s pretty if you don’t know better but its just another plant we don’t want growing. Fortunately the solution is the same as all the others. Rotate cows.
The cows moving into their new paddock. They are really looking better every day. The coats are improving, they are adding weight, and their disposition is just perfect.
The only issue I have is that the cows have figured out that I don’t electrify the partition fence between them and the water which is what forces them to have to walk to get their water. Therefor they are simply walking through the wire, making a mess and tearing up gear. I connected the hot wire from the other end so they should get a nice surprise today. A week of a hot back fence should solve this problem.
This was my view out of the shop window this morning as I headed back to the house. Looks like the baby pigs are getting adventuresome and have escaped to roam the barnyard. They will still go back to mom so I am not too worried about them running off. I will keep an eye on them. Luckily they are starting to eat so they will show back up for dinner anyway.
After a few more days of use, it appears that phosphorous was in short supply with my cows. It’s almost time to add more while the other minerals are pretty much untouched still. The phosphorous is on the corner so the rubber is easier to lift but none if the other three corner minerals are being used so it does appear that they are targeting the phosphorous. I looked up what a phosphorous deficiency causes and it wasn’t very clear. Kind of like what is an herb good for, seems like they all cure everything.
I am worried how I am going to move this mineral feeder by hand once I have to go uphill with it. Just going across flat ground its a handful. I’ve dropped 40 pounds this year. I’m starting to find that I cannot just hoss things around like a used to. There is no substitute for mass.