Ewww!

This morning when Spork and I went to tend all the critters we discovered we had inadvertently created a roach motel out of the chicken feed bucket.

Problems are just opportunities, right? So what to do? After the heeby jeeby dance we decided the beef chickens could use some protein.

We didn’t have time to wait around to see what became of our critters. But this is what we found when we got back.

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How we move the cows

Sometimes people wonder how we move the cows. Billy Crystal in City Slickers style (for you young folks, go look it up, great movie) with horses and cowboys? The Gator? Cattle dogs?

Nope. Just open the gate, call a few of the cows who know their name and they come running. Moving today was from the lower pond which is heaven to the cows. You can see that even so they come running.

It wasn’t always like this. Switching over to daily moves has really changed the relationship we have with out cows. A few of the cows will even pay attention while they are eating when you call their name, lifting their heads and paying attention to you instead of the food at their feet. I’ve been working on Benjamin on this and he is getting closer every day. He already eats out of my hand, just not always on command.

I was just gone for a few days

So I left town for a few days. Everything was working ok when I left and all the bases were covered. I get back at about 2am and am at work the next day till late so this morning is the first time I can go check on things.

I get up and find my able interns cleaning up a mess where the paddock hot wire is down, broken, and tangled. What a mess.

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Then I note that the waterer is leaking quite merrily and the pasture is soaked and pugged. Also, the quick connect union in the ground has standing water in it so it must be leaking too. Ugh.

So we go to set up the new paddock, and I find that the gate we installed earlier this year won’t lock closed. And the high tensile wire is loose and floppy. Sigh.

We get the new paddock set and turn on the hot wire, which only reads 2.7k volts. Something is wrong with it.

I’m going to work where I hope something is working!

Despite all that, the weather is unbelievably cool and is expected to continue through the weekend. It feels like fall and it’s the middle of August.

Last batch of canning

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13 quarts of spaghetti sauce is our last hurrah of canning for the summer unless we decide to can some beans.

We may have some tomatoes that sneak in before the season ends but they will probably end up as salsa.

With the previous 20 quarts that gives us 33 quarts put away this summer. Since mom and dad are on Atkins, that’s an awful lot of sauce and should last us well into next summer.

Sabbath update

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Everyone was quietly and peacefully grazing. Cotton was loyally at my side and I thought this would make a nice serene picture for the blog. A cool calm summer morning. As I pressed the camera button cotton took off and I ended up with an action shot of Cotton chasing calves which ended up with a calf almost jumping the hot wire to get back to mom. Almost because she didn’t quite make it and caught the wire (it was off) and drug it half way across the paddock. Sigh.

So Benjamin doesn’t like trees for some reason. All the other cows get excited for trees and like to eat the leaves. Big Ben has another reaction. It’s something I’ve never seen.

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Yesterday’s paddock on the right, todays on the left. The clumps of grass you see left over are all clipped by the cows but not eaten down past the first grazing. That’s perfect.

The fescue is growing strong and the cows simply cannot keep up. This is good because its about time to sequester some pastures for winter grazing. The fescue should go dormant again with the last of this heat and then its time for the fall flush of growth. That should time nicely with this last rotation.

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Yesterday’s paddock on the left, day before yesterday on the right.

The pastures are noticeable in how they look after the full treatment. The super long paddocks were hard to tell where the cows had been and where they had not. These smaller paddocks are much different before and after but still are not overgrazed. It looks like we have the paddock sizes dialed in for the amount of grass we have right now.

The new fence charger has a nice remote that let’s me turn the fence on and off from anywhere there is a hot wire. It also has a nice belt clip so I can carry it around. Well this morning the belt clip came unsnapped and unknowingly to me it dropped to the ground while I was working. I just happened to stumble across it by accident laying out in the pasture. That’s 150 dollars and the way I control the fence. Rule #1 of moving cows is don’t forget to turn the hot wire back on before you finish. Rule #2 is the remote stays in the locker on the gator, period.

The mobile waterer needs some TLC. When its on any kind of grade, water leaks out the top and it runs continuously. This sets the ground in a high traffic area so it ends up being pugged. It’s only for one day so its not really bad but it wastes water. Looks like its time to take it apart and adjust the float.

General update to grazing and school starts

It’s raining and cool again here at the farm. We should have sunshine today but its a misty cool start to the day. The grass continues to grow very well. It looks like the fescue is coming out of summer dormancy and is growing again. The cows certainly aren’t complaining.

SWMBO is starting day 2 of school. Spork reported that he very much enjoyed school yesterday and SWMBO said it went off very well so hopefully today will be a repeat.

After one full day of phosphorous refill, the cows have consumed about one half of the 25 pounds. I have one more bag of phosphorous and then I will be out. Luckily its time to reorder. I also notice that the trace mineral TA and the vitamin V4 are starting to look like they have had some attention and will need to be refilled in a week or two. Looks like a pallet of phosphorous is in order though. I’m very encouraged by the drop in the cows PH so I don’t mind ordering more. If this solves the PH problem it will be more than worth it.

Chicken tractor redux

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The “beef” chickens (our meat birds) got a new chicken tractor because yours truly cannot perform simple geometry and made the first one too small. They now have a true Joel Salatin style tractor with much more room. They are definitely happier with some space to stretch out. We are retrofitting the original tractor to make it more suitable so all is not lost.

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Also, it may be too early to have a party over this but what you are seeing in this photo is some dog fennel which has been eaten by the beef chickens. They were out of food when I got to them this morning so it may have been desperation but I will take any success I can get.