A new adventure


As always click on any photo to see it larger

Use your browser back button to return to the blog

I have wanted for a while to add a few more goats to the farm beautification crew.  At one time we had five and over the last couple of years have suffered some attrition and we are down to three….this number is insufficient to do the needed jobe of brush control on the plantation….The cows help but there are just some things that goats will eat that cows are reluctant to consume…

So lately I have been looking at breeds of goats…we have historically had nubians or nubian crosses….we dabbled with Boers but found them to be, lets say difficult to manage and not very calm…maybe I had a bad sample but when I finally caught them and removed them life got a lot simpler…many have told me their boers were pets but the ones I had demonstrated little interest in human association….

Any how I have been reading and talking to folks about Kikos.  Kikos are a breed of goat developed as a meat goat in New Zealand.  They are reputed to be very hardy and excellent browsers…They are very popular in America…..that means they are not cheap….but then I have discovered that no goats are cheap anymore.  I originally wanted to get a couple of bred females but soon discovered that it would be cheaper to buy another horse.  not needing another horse I kept shopping.

I finally found a fellow who has purbred Kikos that had a couple of Bucks that I could afford.  So yesterday I went to look at them.  the idea being to buy a buck and breed my does and then perhaps resell him…. or maybe keep him for a second season and then sell him.  thus raising my own farm beautification crew from babies and having an opportunity to keep them gentle.

I arrived at the appointed time and met the gentleman, Ben Mikell.  We chatted for a few minutes and then we went through the gate and he yelled come on boys…..To my amazement a herd of bucks trotted to him from all over the field.  Below is a photo of the bucks crowed around him as he breaks off a sweet gum limb to lure the senior herd sire from the shade under a building…I was amazed at how gentle these bucks were….they crowed around both of us to be petted and loking for handouts.  As I do, he feeds them a little bit daily to keep them coming to call and to make checking easier.

Here is a photo of the senior herd sire, Magnum.  He is the big Brown Goat.  He is purebred registered New Zeland stock and is an impressive animal.  There was little doubt of his status in the herd….he was the kindly monarch and all deferred to him.

Ben repeated his trick by going to the doe pastture and yelling come on girls and they did not trot but ran to us.  Most of these girl had larger offspring not quite ready to wean.

Then he took me to a maternity area where he had three or four does with little babies three or four weeks old.  they were the cutest little things.

Anyhow it was back to the bucks and I sorted though them and looked at what I could afford.  I settled on a buck named Beaver.  He is about two and a half years old and is a good size fellow.  He is mostly white with some very light brown patches.  He is 99 percent purebred and could be registered but that involves DNA testing and several other expenses and I have no desire to be in the registered goat businees and intend to breed him to non Kiko goats so registration expense is avoided.  He also has the tip broken off of one of his horns which lowers his value considerably.  He was a pretty good sized fellow and craved attention.  He liked to be petted and be close to humans as did several of his kin folk.  that made it hard to get a picture of him…

below is Ben reading his tattoo but I was on the wrong side and snapped a shot and got the sun haze but it shows his disposition and his size.

below is a clearer picture but another buck stepped in just as I clicked the shot….Beaver is the one to the upper right.

Anyhow I bought Beaver.  He will not come to live with us until October.  The reason for this is I do not have a secure goat area to keep him seperated from the does.  I do not want to have goats giving birth in the dead of winter.  We have done that by accident a time or two and lost as many babies to the cold as we saved….So if Beaver is not here until say Mid October we will not have kids until Late March or April.

I am tickled and looking forward to the new cute little goat babies next spring.

Advertisements

Summer Stockpile


As always you can see any picture larger by clicking on it…

use your browser back button to return to the blog.

 

just a couple of quick shots from around the farm yesterday.

 

the first one is a shot of Caucasian Bluestem….Many years ago my late neighbor, Jack, had to make some repairs to his pond dam.  The contractor borrowed some dirt from a hillside by the pond.  To seed the bare area someone from NRCS advised Jack to use Bluestem Warm Season Grass but they did not tell him which species..Jack ordered caucasian  bluestem.  He broadcast it on the bare area..it came up..  I had not been over there in a while but was over there yesterday…snapped a photo of the bluestem…over my head tall…

this is just an example of what the warm season perennial grasses can produce…they are difficult to get established and they must be managed grazed…but they are supper productive…this grass is over my head tall and the cows love it…the biologist say the Caucasian is not a native and can be invasive but this stand has not invaded anything in the 25 years it has been there….Oh and the warm season native grasses do not require lime or fertilizer once established.  This stand has never been fertilized…in fact it has since been fenced out in an exclusion project and this area is the only part of the exclusion that is not rank with typical overgrowth…blackberries and saplings and such.  I will either mow it or Flash Graze it some time this summer.

I was over there because with all the rain we have had I can not drive my tractor from the front of my place to the back of my place.  I had a tree come down in the wind and naturally it fell on a corner assembly…  to get my tools and supplies to the corner I had to go around through the neighbors pasture.  he was in the process of moving the cows…he was moving them to stockpiled summer pasture.   this is just pasture that has not yet been grazed.  He is an advocate of rotational grazing and this year he has a world of grass.  I had thought he was a little overstocked but with all the rain this year it is not a concern….He has grass galore…

to give you some idea of the grass volume in this field…the below photo is of my big CC&7 daughter, Wanda.  Looks like the grass is up to her belly…actually the grass is so rank that it is hard to walk through.  and Wanda is a 1600 lb little maiden who is close to a seven frame.. I am raising Wandas last calf who is a son of Alap of Wye, as a bull this year.  First bull I have raised in six or seven years.  Also raising a Red Angus bull for the neighbor.
And six heifers…two of mine and four for the neighbor…two red angus one black angus and one that is alt least 3/4 angus but she still looks like a belted galloway…

Behind this field is another 14 acre field that is almost strictly summer grazing and it is about half and half fescue and bermuda grass.  There is probably enough grass back there now to carry forty cows through the summer…

Meanwhile the front pastures are regrowing and they are awaiting an application of Biosolids to stock pile fescue for winter grazing…

one more shot…these are not calves in this grass.  this is the cow herd…grass up to their backs…

rotational grazing pays dividends.

summer cover 2018


As always you can click on the photo to see it larger….use your browser back arrow to return to the blog.

 

Below is a photo snapped this morning of the trail behind my chicken tractor.  The Chicken tractor only has three retired chickens in  it now….I move it about once per week and then sow some cover crop on the area just vacated…

this morning while going to turn Perkins out from eating his breakfast I stopped to take a shot of the last six weeks growth of summer cover crops.

This is the same cover crop planted at roughly weekly intervals…

first you see the buckwheat and the cow peas.  then the sun hemp appears.  then the buckwheat starts to bloom and grow…finally the warm season annual grasses come up through the vegetation…

the farthest back plot is about 3.5 to 4 feet tall now…

what was sown Friday is just germinating…(Not visible in the shot)

The horses are grazing around this area…I put up some baling twine to make them think there was an electric fence and they have not bothered it in almost a week.  you can see a step in post on the left side of the photo.

the monsoon rains are keeping it growing…

A Memory of Marie


Was going through some of Maries stuff while it was raining to look for things I needed to take care of….

 Found this photo in her purse…I had no idea she carried it around

 Photo is from 2001.

 The bull Is Jock who was a Riptide son out of my Enchantress cow if I recall correctly.

 The light colored blob on his back is the top of Maries head….as she was scratching his back….

 Jock was a big boy…

 One of the cows I have now is a grand daughter of Jock.

Spring Grazing 2018 continued


This is a follow up to my previous post about beginning grazing in Spring of 2018.

On Sunday 4/8/2018 I moved the horses into the fourth grazing paddock.  This was the end of day nine with three paddock having been grazed for three days each.  They went into the fourth paddock on Sunday Afternoon and will go to paddock five on Wednesday afternoon after I get home from work.

This is in spite of having yet another snow on Saturday night which was gone by mid day On Sunday…This winter is reluctant to release its grip on us….

In spite of all the cold weather we are still pretty dry in the Arid Zone of Virginia.  Dry weather and cold temperatures have really delayed grass growth and as I go around the area and check cover crops I am not seeing that there has been a lot of corn planted yet…ground temperatures are just not warm enough.

Back to the topic at hand….these paddocks across the front of my place are about .15 to .2 acres each.  They are divided by a single strand of polywire.  Some had some cover crops broadcast in the fall but there is not really a lot of cover crop growth yet apparent.  Sunday we went into the fourth of eight so we have four more paddocks to go in this strip or about another fifteen days grazing….

Here Pete poses for a demo of the just grazed grass along side the new paddock.

Pete poses for a demo shot

The crew was hanging out at the stable when I walked up there with the dogs to change the gates….When I got there Pete was right behind ma and Condi was not far behind.  Perkins and the donks brought up the rear.

whole herd enjoys new paddock

below is a close up of the just grazed paddock.  They really left more residue than I have anticipated.  There was four to six inches of residue left after having the whole herd on it for three days.

residue paddock just grazed

My assistant herdsman is shown below inspecting the just grazed paddock….actually he was looking for a chance to duck into the woods across the road, but he knew I was watching him..

Apache assesses paddock just grazed

As an aside, I planted a lot of native perennial flowers this week….I got an assortment of started plants from Gardens Gate Nursery and planted them in the burgeoning garden around our dog graves.

then I noticed that a lot of my crop buckets had not survived the winter.  These are buckets that I have planted cover crops and other things in for over six or seven years now.  My effort has been to keep something green and growing in them year round…often trimming the residue of one crop and using it as mulch on the new seeding.

With the dry and cold winter, the crops in many of these buckets did not survive for the first time in all the time I have been using them.  I was suprised when I got them all together at how many buckets I am dealing with…29 in this row and a few others.  some buckets have strawberries in them…three buckets of sedum…several with cool season cover crops which show what a bad year it has been in our area for cover crops…they should be at least twice as growthy as they are.  And I have four buckets, two each planted to Eastern Gama Grass and Switchgrass.

I reworked eight of the buckets with dead stuff in them and planted seed of native perrenials…wildflower mix, columbine, rudbeckia, lupine, aster, borage, and two others that are chilling in the freezer and will be planted this week.

some of the remaining buckets will host tomatoes this summer.

29 crop buckets

Spring grazing my horses 4/1/2018


small ridingby Jim Tate,

Conservation Specialist,

Hanover-Caroline  SWCD

 

Yesterday was April 1, 2018.  It is a normal target for the beginning of grazing season at the poor farm.  So I had an opportunity to take a couple of photos of the horses grazing the lot they moved into on Saturday 3/31/2018.

I must confess that these horses have had access to a couple of paddocks all winter.  After we finished the Artificial breeding just before Christmas I have not had any cows on the place.  The heifers had not finished all of the paddocks before they were turned out so I have let the horses clean up several of them this winter.

The horses get a small handout of pellets every night.  They have access to hay 24 7.  They have access to whatever paddocks are open.  For the last few weeks I have been broadcasting some seed and closing off paddocks to allow the seed to come up and for the present grasses to begin to regenerate.  The horses pretty much stopped eating hay about ten days ago which told me they were getting some pretty good pickings.  Last week I put the horses into the paddocks of Herman’s lot and it carried them for about a week.

On Saturday I moved them to the first of the eight paddocks across the front.   These have not been grazed since fall…there are eight roughly equal sized paddocks.  My plan is to graze each one for three days and then move the stock to the next paddock allowing the grazed paddock to rest and recover.   Pete enjoys the spring grass below.

Pete closeup

Condi is not about to be left out either….her nick name is Miss Curly Tail because she has a little bit of pig in her…

Condi

Looking beyond Pete you can see the next seven paddocks or the next 21 days grazing.

eight lots

Perkins is not in the photos because he hangs out at the stable and lives mostly on his retirement rations but he occasionally hikes out to the grazing paddocks as well.   And the two mini donks, so there are several animals grazing these paddocks.

There is an interesting thing in the photo below.  Notice in the foreground there is some dark green short grass.  Where the horses are is taller paler grass.  The dark green grass is the road frontage that I mow with the mower….mowing is why I happened to be there to get the photo…I want you to notice how much better the pasture grass is than the grass that is mown with a mower.  Grazing animals can be good for a pasture as long as the pasture gets some rest and recovery time.

fence

The paddock the horses are in a few years ago was the worst spot on my property….until the year I broadcast some rye and vetch and just let it go….come fall it had grass and has done well as a part of the rotation ever since….the dark green marks the fence line…it is nothing but weeds and they are sparse…it has not been mown since last fall…you can see that Pete is in grass up to his fetlock.

fence

Below I just walked up to the fence and took a shot of the grass.  Now this grass has already been grazed for about a day and a half so they have taken the young green stuff.   But there is plenty of grass there and they are enjoying it…

grass close

My other point is about the fears that people have of horses over consuming grass.

I am not going to say that horses can not get into trouble with grass.  But usually the problems come from the management rather than the grass.

One of the biggest worries is founder…Founder is caused by a sudden burst of metabolic energy.  It can come from an overdose of any kind of energy of a combination of energy sources suddenly changing.  Horses accessing the feed room unsupervised is an example…

Dry lotted horses on a jail break to a lush field is another opportunity…

It is not the evil high energy grass….it is the sudden change in diet and energy that causes the problem.

These horses have been picking at grass shoots for several weeks….I monitored when they reduced their hay consumption and that is when I first turned them into Hermans lot, where they got a small section of grass….most of you know by now that I am an advocate of good hot electric fence for grazing control….I stick up a portable poly wire and dictate how much grass they get at once…and I gradually increase it every day until they are acclimated…..

Now even Miss Curly Tail, who is still fairly new to our system, will make a foray out to the grazing and graze for a few minutes and then she will go back to the stable area and hang out with Perkins.  They have no need to overconsume….they are already fat and sassy…

 

 

Forage of the Month December 2017


IMG_3156Forage of the Month    December 2017

 

Clovers

 

I am finally getting around to writing a forage article about Clovers.  This was originally scheduled for October and I am finally getting it done on the 28th of December.

 

Clovers are vitally important in our Central Virginia cool season grass scenario.  Most cool season grass stands that are not carefully managed and rotationally grazed will eventually be taken over by Fescue.  This is in no small part dictated by most grazing animal’s preference for other plants and then leaving the fescue to be grazed last.  This reverse selection allows the fescue to get a growth advantage while other forages are inhibited and stressed and diminished by continual grazing.

 

As stated above, grazing management can and will alleviate this process in the hands of a knowledgeable grazier.

 

Clovers are a tool that can easily be used to enhance fescue pastures.  They do so by creating supplemental protein.  Since they are legumes they have the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil if properly inoculated.  This nitrogen is available to the Clover and to other plants and life forms within the soil as well.  This can reduce chemical fertilizer purchases considerably.  Clovers can also reduce the impact of endophyte infected fescue on the animals by offering a diluting effect of an alternative quality forage.

 

Clovers are easily established either by conventional direct seeding in the fall or the spring.  They may also be sown by “Frost Seeding”.  In our area Frost seeding is simply broadcasting the clover seed over the field in late winter.  I personally use the time frame of 15th of February to 15th of March as my guideline for frost seeding.  Others offer a wider window of February and March.  Clover seed is small and the idea is that the freezing and thawing cycles of that time of year will get the seed to the soil.  I have had good luck broadcasting clover just before a rain or even during a snow event….CAUTION do not broadcast clover after a snow event as it makes expensive bird seed cast on top of snow.

 

In any event the existing forage should be grazed pretty close to allow the clover seed to get to the soil and to reduce competitive pressure from existing plants in the early spring.  In recent years I have taken to using a mix of clovers and even adding some Kobe or Korean Lespedeza as well as some chicory.

 

So let’s talk about clovers.  There are many types of clovers with many different natures.  Most are cool season but there are warm season clovers like Balsana.  Within the species there are many branded varieties as well.  But let’s stick to basics of the commonly used clovers.

 

 

 

Crimson Clover

 

From the SARE Learning Center

 

CRIMSON CLOVER
Trifolium incarnatum

Type: winter annual or summer annual legume
Roles: N source, soil builder, erosion prevention, reseeding inter-row ground cover, forage
Mix with:
rye and other cereals, vetches, annual ryegrass, subclover, red clover, black medic

With its rapid, robust growth, crimson clover provides early spring nitrogen for full-season crops. Rapid fall growth, or summer growth in cool areas, also makes it a top choice for short-rotation niches as a weed suppressing green manure. Popular as a staple forage and roadside cover crop throughout the Southeast, crimson clover is gaining increased recognition as a versatile summer-annual cover in colder regions. Its spectacular beauty when flowering keeps it visible even in a mix with other flowering legumes, a common use in California nut groves and orchards. In Michigan, it is used successfully between rows of blueberries.

 

Biomass. As a winter annual, crimson clover can produce 3,500 to 5,500 lb. dry matter/A and fix 70 to 150 lb. N/A by mid-May in Zone 8

 

In our area Crimson Clover is mostly used as a winter cover crop.  The heat of May and June usually does it in unless we are abnormally wet.  It

will reseed if left to maturity.

CRIMSON CLOVER

Also from the SARE publication Managing Cover Crops Profitably.

 

WHITE CLOVER
Trifolium repens

Also called: Dutch White, New Zealand White, Ladino
Type: long-lived perennial or winter annual legume
Roles: living mulch, erosion protection, gree

n manure, beneficial insect attraction
Mix with: annual ryegrass, red clover, hard fescue or red fescue
White clovers are a top choice for “living mulch” systems planted between rows of irrigated vegetables, fruit bushes or trees. They are persistent, widely adapted perennial nitrogen producers with tough stems and a dense shallow root mass that protects soil from erosion and suppresses weeds. Depending on the type, plants grow just 6 to 12 inches tall, but thrive when mowed or grazed. Once established, they stand up well to heavy field traffic and thrive under cool, moist conditions and shade.

Three types: Cultivars of white clover are grouped into three types by size. The lowest growing type (Wild White) best survives heavy traffic and grazing. Intermediate sizes (Dutch White, New Zealand White and Louisiana S-1) flower earlier and more profusely than the larger types, are more heat-tolerant and include most of the economically important varieties. The large (Ladino) types produce the most N per acre of any white types, and are valued for forage quality, especially on poorly drained soil. They are generally less durable, but may be two to four times taller than intermediate types.

Intermediate types of white clover include many cultivated varieties, most originally bred for forage. The best of 36 varieties tested in north-central Mississippi for cover crop use were ARAN, GRASSLAND KOPU and KITAOOHA. These ranked high for all traits tested, including plant vigor, leaf area, dry matter yield, number of seed-heads, lateness of flowering and upright stems to prevent soil contact. Ranking high were ANGEL GALLARDO, CALIFORNIA LADINO and widely used LOUISIANA S-1 (392).

White clover performs best when it has plenty of lime, potash, calcium and phosphorus, but it tolerates poor conditions better than most clovers. Its perennial nature depends on new plants continually being formed by its creeping stolons and, if it reaches maturity, by reseeding.

White clover is raised as a winter annual in the South, where drought and diseases weaken stands. It exhibits its perennial abilities north through Hardiness Zone 4. The short and intermediate types are low biomass producers, while the large ladino types popular with graziers can produce as much biomass as any clover species.

In Virginia it is a perennial with good grazing management.  However, under intensive continuous grazing the small type will predominate.

A healthy stand of white clover can produce 80 to 130 lb. N/A when killed the year after establishment. In established stands, it also may provide some N to growing crops when it is managed as a living mulch between crop rows. Because it contains more of its total N in its roots than other legumes, partial tilling is an especially effective way to trigger N release.  Grazed white clover is highly palatable and digestible with high crude protein (about 28 percent), but in heavy stands, it can pose a bloat risk in ruminants without careful grazing management practices.

Locally you can buy White Clover also called White Dutch, and you can buy branded Ladino Clovers.

WHITE CLOVER

 

Red Clover

From the Sare Publication     RED CLOVER
Trifolium pratense

Also called: medium red clover (multi-cut, early blooming, June clover); mammoth clover (singlecut, late blooming, Michigan red)
Type: short-lived perennial, biennial or winter annual legume
Roles: N source, soil builder, weed suppressor, insectary crop, forage
Mix with: small grains, sweetclover, corn, soybeans, vegetables, grass forages
Red clover is a dependable, low-cost, readily available workhorse that is winter hardy in much of the U.S. (Hardiness Zone 4 and warmer). Easily overseeded or frostseeded into standing crops, it creates loamy topsoil, adds a moderate amount of N, helps to suppress weeds and breaks up heavy soil. Its most common uses include forage, grazing, seed harvest, plowdown N and, in warmer areas, hay. It’s a great legume to frostseed or interseed with small grains where you can harvest grain as well as provide weed suppression and manage N.

 

Crop fertility. As a cover crop, red clover is used primarily as a legume green manure killed ahead of corn or vegetable crops planted in early summer. Full-season, over-wintered red clover can produce 2 to 4 T dry matter/A and fix 70 to 150 lb. N/A. In Ohio, over-wintered mammoth and medium red clover contained about 75 lb. N/A by May 15, increasing to 130 lb. N by June 22.

 

 

Red clover, a short-lived perennial, usually produces two or three hay crops per year. It is characterized by rapid spring growth and low winterhardiness, which contributes to its short-lived nature.

Growth habit varies from erect to prostrate. Numerous stems with large trifoliate leaves arise from the crown region each year. Red clover has a thick tap root that grows to a length of 24-36 inches. Lateral roots arising from the tap root are concentrated mainly in the upper 5 inches of the soil. Small ovoid, pinkish, nitrogen-fixing nodules can be found on the lateral roots if the plant is actively incorporating atmospheric nitrogen into protein nitrogen.

From Best Forages

The most widely planted forage legume after alfalfa. Red clover performs better than alfalfa on acid or wet soils. Faster establishing than alfalfa. This legume is often used in grass mixtures predominantly for a cutting regime. Clovers are best cut for hay when in full bloom. If cut earlier, it is more difficult to cure. Cut later, it loses palatability. Red clovers are more drought tolerant and productive than White Clover, but not quite as high quality. Use some of each for grazing! In Penn State’s trials, the average yield of all the Red Clovers was a little higher than the average yield of the leafhopper resistant Alfalfas, the year after seeding!

 RED CLOVER