April 2017

Well here it is late May and I’m just getting around to my monthly update for April. And I skipped March. It’s been busy, mostly with my brewery consulting work.

The farm is doing just fine, it’s actually more mellow this year than it has been in the past. Right now we have 6 cattle and a bunch of laying hens. That’s it. All of our pigs are sold or in the freezer, and the grass is doing great. We certainly have some happy cows.

We are doing just 1 batch of meat chickens this year, and they show up in early June. They’ll be on pasture until late July, then it’s back to just cattle and hens. Meat chickens are a lot of work and a lot of sleepless nights. They sleep on the grass and are vulnerable to predators. And its summer so the windows are open, so we can hear foxes every night trying to get in for an easy snack.

What I want to show you is my farm compared to my neighbors. There is a patch of ground behind my farm that hasn’t had cows on it for years. This year cows with young calves were brought in. These cows are at the peak of their nutritional needs, they have to maintain themselves and make milk for their growing calf. The calf also needs nice forage to get their rumens kick started. This is basic stuff, but it amazes me how many ranchers around here don’t get it. Look at the difference here.

The first picture is my grass and cattle in mid-May.  The bottom picture is the neighbors in the background.  You can see they have eaten everything green and are basically down to eating dirt.  Too many cattle on too small of a pasture for too long.

These cows have run out of food, and they spend all day mooing as they see my cows eating good grass just a few feet away. The calves will grow, the moms will lose weight and condition, and he will sell his calves at the sale barn- and probably make more money at it than I do.

I work harder with my cows. I move them twice a day, everyday, to a fresh piece of grass. Grass that hasn’t been stepped on, pooped on, peed on and they are fat. The momma cows are getting great nutrition for the last month before calving, and will get great nurtrition all summer as their calves are nursing. And the calves get great grass to get their rumens off to a healthy start. Just like the deer and elk do it, they wait until the grass is lush before fawning/calving. Working with nature, not against it.

It’s frustrating to see this, but I am committed to seasonal calving and working with nature.