November 2014

We’re 3 days away from butcher day for our pig. Kind of a sad day, but pigs are good for digging- and for eating. Our pigs here have a great life, and 1 bad day.

I am a farmer, we have a farm. Should I say rancher? Anyway, I didn’t grow up doing this. I learn how to do what I do by reading books, and there are a lot of really good books out there challenging the status quo. Why repeat what other farmers are doing, for the most part you can’t argue that they’re successful or they wouldn’t have a day job. Anyway…

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One of those books is Kick the Hay Habit by Jim Gerrish. He argues that feeding hay does not make sense. It used to make sense until hay got too expensive. Hay used to be made by hand, now it’s made by big expensive machinery. Hay used to be cheap, now it’s expensive. He does not advocate feeding grain, he advocates winter annuals, standing forage, and letting the cattle do the harvesting. But you can’t make the switch in 1 day, 1 month, or even 1 year. The cattle have to learn how to find food in the snow, and learn how to teach their calves to do the same thing. Time. As a step in this direction, as described last month, we have hay laying loose on our field. It was cut right around the time of first freeze (Oct 3). It was dried, then raked into long rows, and now the cattle are eating it.

I sent a few samples out for analysis to see how good of quality the hay actually was. With grass hay we’re concerned with crude protein and TDN (total digestible nutrients). The outer part of the rows was good quality, the inner part was excellent quality. This makes sense, the outer part gets sun all day and frost every night. I’ll keep sending samples in every 3 weeks until it’s gone to track this. The cattle are very happy with it. Another benefit to them is the ground under the thick hay rows is not frozen, so they have a soft, warm spot to lay in.

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