cover crop checks 4 23 2013


you can click on any photo and see it in large size…..use your back arrow to return to the blog.

I was doing cover crop checks this afternoon to asure compliance with cost share regulations….

Most of the producers has already sparyed to kill the cover crops and planted corn. Some corn was up and seemed to have survived yesterdays frost.

Two farms put on a brilliant display shown in the photos below.

Jim Clay has the only stand of Blooming tillage radishes that I know of. I know that mine winter killed as well as the oats. Jim does not have any oats apparent but he has loads of radishes that are blooming like crazy. In this first photo I tracked the flowers down to the radish root to be sure that is what was blooming….

tracked the white flowers down to the radish

This was just a shot of the small grain and grasses at the Isbells Keenbell Farm.
small grain at Keenbell

Jim planted both the 4 way mix and the nine way mix….in the nine way mix the rape has overtopped everything else just as it has at my house..
rape takes over the nine way mix

The blooming heads of the rape are nearly four feet tall..
rape is nearly 4 ft tall

here is a closer shot of the Clay Radish and crimson clover and triticale….radish, crimson clover and triticale

KeenBell are intensive grazers and move the cattle daily. In the strip you can see yesterdays grazing , todayd s grazing and the future days grazing….CJ said it is 18 inches tall.
keenbell moving daily

Keenbell is grazing their cover

keenbell grass

intersection of the 4 way mix and the nine way mix at Jim Clays…
intersection

Five acres of the nine way mix.
five acres of the 9 way mix

At Keenbell the Crimson Clover and the Triticale seem to have dominated the stand. not sure why as this is the only place I saw this happen.
crimson clover and trtiticale

Clay 4 way mix
fifty acres of the 4 way mix
about fifty acres of this

Advertisements

farm doings 4 19 2013


some snapshots from around the farm yesterday and today….no sequence and no continuity but I will try to explain what is up. I have been grazing the bulls in strips through a small field in front of the house. this is a field where I had planted some multispecies cover crop seed along with some oats that I had last fall…..I only had a smattering of MSCC cover crops seed when I did this field so it was just poured in with the oats. The oats and the tillage radishes all winter killed but I had a good stand of clover and turnips and rape along with some wheat and tritcale. I decided to graze it this week and the bulls were in there in four strips for about five days total.

There are some other shots scattered about as well….for example the first shot is of my strawberries planted in gravel….this is part of my aquaponics experiment….I have 200 gallons of roof run off rainwater so I put some catfish in the barrels and I am circulating the water through some tubs with gravel and plants.

AQUAPONIC STRAWBERRIES IN GRAVEL

below is a shot of the mix I broadcast today in the field recently grazed by the bulls…..this is a mix I made up buying seeds from Walmart and the local feed store.
SUMMER COVER CROP FOR GRAZING

how many species can you identify? here is a closeup
SUMMER COVER CLOSE UP

a cover crop field that has not been grazed has a beautiful blooming crop of rape. There is a lot of clover….some winter peas..some wheat and triticale and some grass out there but all that is apparent now is the blooming rape….I don’t know when I will graze this or with what stock….
RAPE IN BLOOM IS BEAUTIFUL

The bulls in grazing the cover crops did not like the rape apparently but they were eating more of it as they went thru the strips….it was interesting to watch thm eat turnip forage and end up pulling up the turnips…they never did catch on to eating them….cows normally love turnips….
PULL THE TRURNIPS UP GRAZING THE FORAGE
Marie finally saw the big black sanke that has been around for a couple of years….Marie hates a snake worse than I do if that is possible…expecially since she was bit by a copperhead once….her theory is the only good snake is a dead snake and there was to be no happiness until he was a good snake….Judge works admirably for such work.
MARIE HATES A SNAKE...ANY SNAKE

Up in the top left is the corner lot that I grazed the horses on for 14 days in 14 strips…George and Veronica Getchell came by last weekend to observe how I did this first hand. The horses where in these strips then. the first strips grazed are probably eight to ten inches tall again all ready. The light color is the last couple grazed.
CORNER LOT GRAZED LAST WEEK

this is just a shot of the polywire in the rape dividing the lot into grazing strips for the bulls….one polywire about three feet off the ground is what I use for all stock.
BULL STRIPS THIS WEEK

below is a photo of the bull strip grazed today….
BULL STRIP GRAZED TODAY

below is a shot of the tomatoes I planted today. They are better boys planted in global buckets with a siphon watering system….we will see how it goes. I am still learning how to manage the global buckets.
BETTER BOYS IN GLOBAL BUCKETS

this is the best shot of the summer cover crop seed ploanted today….have you guessed all the species yet?
BEST SHOT OF SUMMER COVER SEED

I broadcast a total of about 19 lbs of seed on the lot today and we just now had a nice thunderstorm to wet it all down real well….I simply broadcast it over the standing stuble and existing rape….the grass and clover in the early grazed strips was already regrowing nicely so I don’t think I will have a lot fo bird feeding loss.
19 LBS OF SUMMER SEED FOR THE LOT NEAR THE FRONT YARD
Just another shot of the seed in the bucket…..I have about that much more to put in another lot….I have not yet decided where it will go…but it may go to the lot the bulls are in now which is the lot that laid fallow all last year…
SUMMER COVER CROP FOR GRAZING

recipe for todays broadcast mix
lentils 1 lb
black eye peas 1 lb
pearl millet 6 lbs
buckwheat 2.5 lbs
sweet yellow clover .5 lb
grain sorghum 1 lb
safflower 1 lb
sunflower 1 lb
corn 5 lb

COVER CROP PLOT UPDATE


TODAY WAS A GOOD DAY TO SNAP A COUPLE OF PHOTOS OF OUR COVER CROP TEST PLOTS HERE AT THE OFFICE. We planted some real challenge plots. we had a couple of purposes in mind. One was to try to demonstrate our Multi species Cover Crops right here nearby. The second was to explore the fertility challenge.

We knew the ground we had available had not had any lime or fertilizer in years…it is simply a grass lot that is sometimes used for parking and it is mown regularly….

We marked off a 100 foot by 100 foot plot and did nothing but drill in the multispecies cover crop mix into the existing sod. Then out on one end we tilled a strip 10 feet wide by 100 feet long and planted several species in individual plots and we very lightly fertilied half of each of those plots and did nothing to the other half.

The photos below show the plots.

The first is a mixed brassica plot. mixture of kales and mustard and spinalch and turnip….the fertilized side is on the left.

HPIM4200

this is a view of the MSCC plot and the rows are just now beginning to be visible….my similar plot at home is over two feet tall and it only has natrual fertility from the rotationally grazed pastures.
HPIM4211

Crimson Clover….left is fertilized right is not…
HPIM4209

Oats….back has been fertilized and the front has not.
HPIM4208

Barley…back was fertilized and not only has a better stand but has begun to head and the front struggles to survive.
HPIM4207

Rye…again the rear had some fertilizer and the thin and spinldy front stand had none.
HPIM4206

A view across all plots with the right having been fertilized and the left side none.
HPIM4205

wheat and crimson clover….the difference is more apparent in the previous photo but there is a real difference.
HPIM4204

wheat and lana vetch…the vetch in this plot frost killed but the rear of the plot was fertilized and the front was not.
HPIM4203

Wheat….the foreground no fertilizer and the background was fertilized.
HPIM4201

This is a good view from the western end of the strip. The difference is clearly visible on all the plots no matter the crop. We feel that even a nitrogne scavenging cover crop needs some basic fertility to get off to a good start and do its job well. While we have not yet decided what we will plant on this strip for the summer I have already broadcast it with a mix of clovers and they are beginning to be apparent on close inspection…we will probably plant some no till vegetables in rows in this plot. Then another cover crop in the fall.
HPIM4200

comment on my blog by Chris Lawrence…..NRCS Agronomist and I agree totally…

“I think it is worth emphasizing that a soil test can help you target what fertilizer elements are lacking. My recommendation is that P, K, lime need to be right for a legume to grow. But if they are in place, then a properly inoculated cover with adequate legume should not need N. Whether the N scavenging or non legume needs N depends on the N status of the soil (ie., preceding crop and N management) and the growers objective. Bottom line – I think the right answer on fertilizer for cover crops is “it depends”…”

Chris Lawrence, Cropland Agronomist
USDA-NRCS, Virginia
1606 Santa Rosa Road, Suite 209
Richmond, VA 23229
Office phone: (804) 287-1680
Cell phone: (804) 356-0610
chris.lawrence@va.usda.gov

GRAZING UPDATE 4/8/2013


HERE IS ANOTHER UPDATE TO MY GRAZING BLOG. IF YOU CLICK ON ONE OF THE FOLLOW LINKS AND SIGN UP, THE BLOG WILL SEND YOU AN E-MAIL WHEN EVER I POST SOMETHING TO IT…

APACHE TAKES A BREAK….85 DEGREES IS A LITTLE WARM FOR EARLY APRIL WHEN IT WAS SNOWING LAST WEEK
HPIM4169

APACHE AND DEE DEE….THEY ARE MOST GENERALLY ALWAYS TOGETHER….THEY HAD BEEN BUSY HUNTING FOR VARMITS IN THE COVER CROP FIELD….
HPIM4170

THE COVER CROP RAPE IS STARTING TO BLOOM
HPIM4171

JUST ANOTHER SHOT OF ONE OF THE COVER CROP PASTURE FIELDS….
HPIM4172

CLOSE UP OF THE COVER CROP FIELD. THIS COVER WAS BROADCAST ONTO THE PASTURE AFTER GRAZING LAST FALL….
HPIM4173

I TOLD YOU THAT IT IS GONE…
HPIM4174

A VIEW ACROSS THE HORSE GRAZING LANES
HPIM4175

THE FIRST HOSRE STRIP GRAZED ONE WEEK AGO IS REBOUNDING NICELY NOW THAT TEMPERATURES HAVE GONE FROM 28 TO 82.
HPIM4176

APACHE INSPECTS THE WORK….THE STRIP ON THE RIGHT WAS THE STRIP OPENED MONDAY AFTERNOON AND THE STRIP ON THE LEFT WAS OPENED TUESDAY AFTERNOON….I NORMALLY DO NOT ALLOW ACCESS BACK TO THE STRIP JUST GRAZED BUT NEEDED THE FENCE ELSEWHERE AND THEY WILL ONLY BE ON IT A TOTAL OF TWO DAYS SO I RAIDED THE PORTABLE FENCE.
HPIM4177

OBVIOULSY WE WANT THE GOOD STUFF ANYWAY….
HPIM4178

FESCUE AND VETCH AND A LITTLE WHEAT
HPIM4179

PERKINS DEMONSTRATES PROPER GRAZING TECHNIQUE
HPIM4180

ANOTHER VIEW OF THE STRIPS
HPIM4181

THIS WAS THE WINTER SACRIFICE AREA WHERE I FED HAY WHEN THE WEATHER WAS FIT….I WILL SOON SHUT THIS OFF AND LEAVE IT ALONE JUST TO SEE WHAT COMES UP…..THEY WERE ALL ASLEEP THERE THIS MORNING WHEN I LEFT HOME…WELL IT WAS PERKINS TURN TO STAND GUARD SO HE WAS UPRIGHT BUT THE REST WERE SACKED OUT. PERKINS WAS STANDING RIGHT OVER STAR BABY
HPIM4182

THIS WAS THE FIRST PADDOCK THAT THE BULLS GRAZED….THEY WERE THERE FOR THREE DAYS AND HAVE BEEN OUT FOR FIVE DAYS NOW AND IT APPEARS TO BE COMING BACK NICELY…EVEN THE WHEAT IS REGROWING…IT WILL DO THAT WHEN GRAZED EARLY…IT HAD NOT YET JOINTED.
HPIM4183

The Creature


I have led an interesting life….nothing fantastic but it has been interesting to me…

Lately a new chapter has opened….in retrospect it probably began a while ago, but I did not know it.

for quite some time now I find the horses to ocassionally be agitated and distracted at the evening feeding….It is only every now and again but there are some evenings when Star Baby does not want to come into the stable or the barn to eat and she will take a bite and then turn to look outside…..

I have never seen the cause for her agitation….We have bears and we have coyotes but I have never seen either on the place.

About a week ago my wife called to me in what for her was a very quiet voice.  I was upstairs and barely heard her…..Wondering what the devil was going on I went to the top of the stairs to find her with the front door open and the dogs at her feet wanting to go out and she was just staring out into the darkness.  We do have a security light in the yard so it is not real dark but it is not light either….

I asked he what she was doing.  She said there is something out there.   I scurried down the stairs as fast an arthritic old man can and looked over her sholder and asked what and where.  She said I don’t know what it is but it is bigger than the dogs.  Our Aussie Apache is about knee high to me and weighs a bit over fifty pounds….Dee Dee the pound puppy is a bit taller and longer but weighs less.  She said it is a lot bigger than the dogs….

Still not seeing anything, I asked her where…..She said, “In the field beyond the cars.”

Beyond the cars is our small vegetable garden and beyond that is a paddock of poor grass that in my youth was more garden and now is a summer grazing paddock for the horses.  I stared and scanned and could not see a thing.  Figuring she was overreacting to a oppossum or coon or skunk, I grabbed up my big million candle power flashlight and hoped it was charged and slipped out the door. 

I flipped the switch and flooded the area in light and saw …..nothing…..I walked forward and scanned with the light…. still nothing…not even the usual rabbits that like to munch on the wheat and clover cover in my garden…

I continued to walk and scann with the light and suddenly about a hundred yards away in the open woods on the south side of my place the light reflected an eyeball….it was huge….and it just stared back at me…..It literally looked like I had illuminated an orange…..and it continued to just look back at me…..Funny how many thoughts run thru your mind at a time like that…..thoughts about what it could be….thoughts about what I should do….thoughts that whatever it is ….it is not afraid of me….for the life of me I could see no shape or form in the darkness….only that eyeball staring back at me…..this went on for thirty or forty seconds while I strained trying to see some shape or form as the cacaphony of thoughts raced through my head….

Suddenly it turned and was gone……where to, I still don’t know.

I shined the light to find the horses and they were alert but unpreturbed….I could not find the two yearling bulls but trying to find black bulls in the dark is a fairly futile persuit. No… it was not a bulls eye that I had illuminated…I have been lighing up cattle eyes all my life and this was no bulls eye…wrong color…..  And they could have been anyplace in a wide area.

I went back to the poorch and let the dogs out and tried to minimize it with Marie….If she thought it was something scary she would be shooting up the whole place….

So a week or so has gone by and last night I was roused from my sleep at about two thirty by one of the mini donks braying awfully….I grabbed the 44 mag from the bed table and dashed down the steps and grabbed the big light and stepped out….Scanned until I found the braying donkey….he was alone….I don’t know why as those donkeys are normally attached at the hip.  I continued to scan until I found the horses and the other donkey…Once I lit them up, Jonah saw them and was satisfied and began to make his way toward them….

I shined the light all about and saw nothing and the horses were unpreturbed so I figured everything was all right…..Still do not know why Jonah was alone in another lot away from the others unless something chased him….

I let the dogs out and Apache took the opportunity to relieve himself….Dee Dee would not go off the porch…..

went back in the house and went back to bed but sleep would not return,,,I was still tossing and turning when the alarm went off at 4:30.  Put the dogs out and hit the area with the light again and Jonah was back with the others and all apeared to be normal….

I expect this story to be continued….and you can expect me to be armed when I am walking around on my own property…..I don’t know if it is a bear or a lion or sasquatch….but none of em are welcome in my yard or my pasture….it was not a coyote….that eye was much too big to be a coyote….and no coyote is that brazen around a human.

Grazing strips…getting started late this year…


I finally opened the first grazing strip for the horses last night..4/1/2013…We have had such miserable weather that grass and crops have just not grown….Perkins was the first to recognize that I might be heading somewhere beneficial and he tucked his head under my arm and followed me as I walked up the lane.  Star Baby was not going to be left behind and she cam trotting along after us….The Mini Donks followed suit.

When Perkins recognized that a wire rope gate had been moved his head went right down and he bagan grazing.  Star Baby nipped him out of the way so she could access the grass as well….When last seen they were all four spread out across the narrow grazing strip and happily munching away.

These little strips will mean daily moves for a week or so.  I will try to take some photos of the first move this evening.  Won’t move a fence until tomorrow evening.  Will try to do a better job of keeping the blog up to date this year.

 

 

 

Grazing update 4/2/2013


As promised I took the camera to the field last night when I changed grazing stips. Now you have to suffer the consequences.
this first shot is some Wheat and vetch overseeded into a bull pasture….I split this paddock and opened it for the two long yearling bulls last night….Dee Dee and Apache are cheking it out to make sure it is safe.

HPIM4146

This is a closeup of the overseeded wheat and vetch. I did not know the vetch had started to bloom until I went in there to runt the polywire to divide the lot.

HPIM4145

Star Baby saw me go to the grazing area and came thundering up behind me closely followed by Perkins

HPIM4144

As you can see a strip is barely wide enough for a horse to turn around in…..

HPIM4143

heads go down as soon as green grazable grass is reached….

HPIM4142

HPIM4141

this is the field that is being strip grazed by the horses right now….I think I have about sixteen days of grazing in this paddock right now not counting growth over the grazing time….

HPIM4140

someone pulled up a turnip

HPIM4139

someone bit this one and spit it out….The equines have not yet developed a taste for turnips….they will over time…at least other horse I have had did.

HPIM4138

this is a shot of one of the pastures overseeded with Multi Species Cover Crops

HPIM4137

yesterdays grazed strip and todays new strip

HPIM4136

view down yesterdays strip. I told you it is six feet wide and 100 feet long approximately…not enough for them to get into grass trouble on….but enough for them to get started. I have four of these and the next division will be three strips 8 feet by 100 feet.

HPIM4135

Waylon….poor shot…..he really is much better in his rear than this shot shows.

HPIM4132

Walker….Walker is pretty correct but he is destined for the freezer…Young bulls have been some of the best beef we have ever put in the freezer.

HPIM4131

Waylon is preparing for his date in May with Mrs. Gassers cows.

HPIM4130