weekly cover crop and farm doings update

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This photo is the third of my Kiowa blackberries to ripen…..I put it in the same place that I put the two the day before……in my mouth……yummy……hoping to get enough ripe at one time to make a cobbler…plants were only planted last year. The Chesters and the Ebonys have lots of berries but they are insignificant compared to these….
Kiowa Blackberry

These are fescue and orchardgrass from one of my lots and have been in these buckets for two years….
Fescue left…OG right.
fescue and orchardgrass

Orchardgrass and bermudagrass mix also from one of my lots…..look like this will be a year for prodigious Bermudagrass growth…..hot and wet is what it loves….

This berry is compared to my thumb to show the size of these berries….I love them….

This photo is of the first field I sowed with the summer cover crop mix….this is the one I sowed in two stages using the lawn spike tooth aerator…..now noticeable is the lack of sunflowers…..where I have put sunflowers in the soil they have done well…..these summer cover crops need to be drilled….
bull lot summer cover

These are the two summer cover crop buckets….that growthier one is about 10 days older and it is the one where the seed were scattered in the bucket and then mulched and watered. The other is the younger where the seeds were just scattered and watered in. Both are doing well and are very crowded….fortunately we have had plenty of rain….
bucket cover crops

Here is my cover crop row planted into my garden….naturally, my lawn mower has died so I have not mown between the rows….

Finally got the mower fixed and did some trimming.
cover crop test row

Here is a shot of Yellow Sweet Clover….this plant is more difficult to grow than most clovers….I have some in the lot where I had an unsuccessful broadcasting of summer cover….The Yellow Sweet Clover is a carry over from the fall cover as there was no yellow sweet clover in the summer mix planted there….Yellow sweet clover is a biannual and its value is in its deep rooted nature to open the soil and bring nutrients to the surface….not a particularly desirable forage plant….my guess is it is another plant that will do much better drilled than broadcast.

It will have to compete hard where it is as there is Crimson, Red and Ladino clover in a good stand where it is….also a good smattering of buckwheat and the rape seems to have reseeded as well as a few stems of wheat….photo of this lot….hard to see the sweet yellow clover in the photo
summer cover failure

I brought my cows and weanling calves home this weekend. Two cows who are half sisters by the 6D bull
this one is Utah looking for a handout….
Utah looking for handout.

and a heifer and two weanling bulls…also have a red heifer that belongs To my neighbor. He has sold all his other weaned calves and we did not want to put her in a lot by herself. The three calves weaned off at eight months age at 800 and 724 for the bulls and the heifer was 692.
camera shy

All on grass and hay and mamas milk…not the prettiest calves I have ever raised but they have done a good job of growing….my theory is that they are from stock that is adapted to the environment they are raised in….We have run a closed herd since Jack bought the draft of ten heifers from Walnut Hill in the early nineties. These two cows go back to my first cows bought from Lynn Brae in 1986. I am thinking of breeding back up to five or six cows…. These girls are like the horses in that they like to spend the day lying in the barn to get away from the bugs….then they go out and graze in the evening…

We took one of last years bulls to slaughter for the freezer a few weeks ago….hung up an 880 lb hot carcass and yielded some pretty good beef….started this years bulls on light feed Friday and one of them will have a similar purpose. The other will probably make a saleable bull about a year from now…

Dee Dee and Apache eating peaches that have fallen off the peach tree….They are not ripe and hard as rocks but they love them….
eating peaches

Bale beans are growing well now….may do more of this in the future…….they are doing better than the row planted in the garden.
bale beans

This day is already a stinker

This day is already a stinker…..

I got up at my usual time this morning about 4:20. No I don’t know why….it is an old habit established years ago when I used to have to drive to Maryland to go to work…..it was easier just to get up early every morning….now the dogs are used to it and even if I don’t set the clock they are going to wake me up about that time…..

This morning the clock and Apache both went off at one time…the clock with its beep beep beep, and Apache by bumping me with his front paws…..

So I got up and trundled down stairs….opened the front door and looked out and did not see any evidence of lions tigers or bears or any snakes on the porch….don’t laugh…we have had enough of them over the years that snake checking in the dark is also a long established habit……


So I let the dogs out and they scurried off to their preferred spots to attend to nature….

I stumbled into the kitchen and turned on the coffee maker and the Tee Vee and grabeed a dog bone for the dogs….

Headed back to the front of the house and caught the new and unmistakable essence of Kitty De Woods…….Pepe Le Pew…..a damned skunk…..


Thank goodness I smelled it before I opened the door……I then set off on a quest to find the Natures Miracle Skunk formula….I knew we had some but had no idea where it was….finally found it and a rag and steeled myself to go outside and deal with it…..

Actually it was not too bad….Dee Dee seemed to have not been involved as a nose directly over her head was not offended…Apache was another story….But he was not awful….just a little stinky…. Apparently he did engage Pepe in combat and a little stink sent him on his way….


I recalled some former skunk encounters….My first Aussie, Monte, hated a skunk and he would kill every one he found….He even developed a method of killing them without getting sprayed….I never did figure out how he did that….

Then there was the new years night a while after the turn from the old year to the new year when I let the dogs out and all three of them had battled a skunk….I did not scent it until I opened the door and all three raced in…..that was long night….. now don’t remember the year so I can not testify whether or not the whole year ended up stinking.

One time the Gator Girls Tana and Tee Tee had a tug of war with one right in front of the front porch….the whole house got sprayed…..

Anyhow armed with the Natures miracle I went out and wiped Apache and Dee Dee down with it….that is one good product….nothing will erase the essence de wood kitty but with the natures miracle you can at least make it bearable….I treated Apache twice more and got him pretty thoroughly wet which is the key….

Then when I went out to my van to come to work, I realized that it was in the area of the encounter….Fortunately half our staff is on Vacation because as I sit here in the office I detect that I also have a slight tinge of natures awful essence clinging to me…I am spraying myself with Lysol and hoping no one important stops by to see me today…think I will turn my fan on and share the joy……

no update this week

Sorry no update so far this week…
Friday evening I cut grass until dark and still have not finished.
Saturday I had to go to a meeting in Ruckersville of the Old Dominion Rcoky Mountain Horse Club….
Sunday I wokred on clearing trees off the fence from the storm and trying to fix fence. Every Tree that fell….fell on a fence post…. and they were big trees….one oak was over two feet in diameter……still not finished with that….not finished cutting grass either,,,,and the tractor ran out of fuel in the middle of the driveway…….I had to get out and go get fuel, and then it took an hour to get it started again….


Multi Species Cover Crop update 6 9 2013

Here is this weeks photo log of the cover crop update….


We have had rain….lots of rain…rain early in the week and then rain Friday as I was trying to take these photos and then the bottom fell out giving us two inches Friday and Saturday and more on Sunday night….

fIRST IS A SHOT OF MY BALE BUTTER BEANS…. they are making good progress. I finally have a row that has come up in the garden as well as some corn….the wire is to keep the birds from pulling them up…the garden did not have benefit of the wire and is one reason I think that crops have not come up well in the garden….I put the wire up there to keep the dogs from jumping on them but it helped with the birds….
bale beans

This is the bull lot that was sown in two parts using the aerator and bushhog….starting to show good MSCC growth….this is cover crop overseeded into pasture.


just a shot of my Kiowa Blackberries….planted last year…first year blooming….berries already as big as my index finger

this is the new area that was broadcast on memorial day. The wet part of the field is showing good growth and the drier part is just now germinating….

another MSCC bucket trial….this one is unmulched and germinating at three days

This is the MSCC test row in my garden….planted memorial day and now growing well….12 days since planting


MSCC test bucket mulched …planted about a week ago

cover crop and farm shots 6 1 2013

Here are the photos that go with the last post. The photos are in the order that the computer uploaded them so I am just going with the flow. Sorry for the lack of continuity.

This first one is a field where we had some MSCC last fall and then i Broadcast summer mscc this spring….Just broadcasting did not work so I grazed it again and then mowed it….Now it has a wolrd of clover….mostly white dutch, some crimson, some red and even some yellow sweet.

white dutch clover taking over

This is the paddock the horses are grazing now….they will get a new paddock today and I will bushog this one and the one previous.

where the horses are now

this is the new clearing….I burned brush from it several times during the winter and seeded it to summer MSCC on Memorial day….
the new clearing

This paddock was seeded with the aerator probably two weeks ago and the MSCC is coming up thru the grass.
summer cover coming thru the grass

This is a shot of rye and Lana Vetch that was broadcast on pasture in late November….this is in the near future grazing for the horses….
rye and lana vetch

I passed thru the stable and Perkins was checking me for treats….
Perkins checking for treats

Just a shot of Perkins and Star Baby and Jonahs butt as they were cleaning up the round pen lot so that I could mow the weeds…this area used to be vegetable garden but I am gettin too old to do that much tillage work….I no till my garden now and use containers as well…the conatiners I am liking very much.
Perkins and Star Baby

just did this on Saturday…had a forage bucket with just fescue….pulled the fescue….added a little horse poo stirred it up…dropped in some MSCC summer mix and decided to just mulch it….will try to take regular photos.
new summer mscc test

Here is some of the new summer MSCC.
new summer cover

this is my MSCC test row in the garden that was planted Memorial day.
my test row 5 days

this is a shot from the fall MSCC that was not grazed and was bush hogged and broadcast last week….this shows the density of the crimson clover heads that are on the ground there….should be beautiful next spring.
lots of crimson clover heads

another shot of new crops MSCC that shows a little bit of everything I think.
little bit of everything

This shots shows Lana Vetch climbing the fescue….I love this stuff….legume, beautiful, nutritious, and self seeding if allowed.
lana vetch climbing the fescue

Star Baby inquires about treats.
got treats

this is a closeup of a wet area in the new ground where the summer MSCC has germinated….on the drier parts of the lot there is less germination….but there is a chance of rain tonight…
germinating where it is damp

This is the ungrazed fall MSCC that was just broadcast with summer MSCC and then bush hogged. there is too much grass cover to see any new germination yet
fall mscc mowed

This is some buckwheat that did come up near a fence line from the early failed boradcast attmept…I am discovering that Buckwheat is pretty hardy and easy to grow…have sprouts of it all over where I have dropped seed.

this was a real hotspot in the first field seeded with summer MSCC….don’t know if it was becasue of manure or just a plethora of seed from the feast and famine aerator seeder.
a hot spot

Over the last two weeks I have planted summer species multi species cover crops in four different places on my place. Two plantings were two halves of one field and the third was a piece of new ground that I was buring brush off of during the winter…..

I reported on the first planting in my last post and it has germinated and is showing green…

The second half of that field was planted differently. The bulls had pretty well knocked everything down while they were grazing but they left a lot of biomass. I took my handy broadcast shoulder seeder bag and broadcast the summer cover crop over this part of the field and then I bushogged the field to break up a nd distribute the residue.

Having already discovered that broadcasting this summer seed is at the least risky, I was hopefull that by driving over it and by bush hogging I could cover some seed. This was done on the Saturday before Memorial Day. I was releived last night to seed some new plants germinating…..I still do not know how good the stand is but as I walked by the fence I could see new growth.

On the new area….I planted this on Memorial day….I hooked up my little spike tooth aerator and ran it over the ground as much as I could. This area still has some trees and some stumps so I could not aerate everything.

Next I broke out the handy dandy shoulder seeder bag and broadcast the cover crop seed.

Then back on the tractor and I both bush hogged what weeds and grass was there and ran the aerator over it again….

I have not been up there yet to see check on progress….but that same day just as a check , I performed a little experiment.

I took a simple garden hoe and scratched a small row in the grass in my garden…..I do not till my garden but plant no till and mow between the rows with a push mower. Anyhow I opened a small row about ten feet long and dropped a handful of cover crop seed in the row and covered it up…..Last night I had new growth coming out of the row….mostly grasses yet but a couple of broadleafs…..

Now this row is near my new sweet potato plants and I have been watering them nightly so I have watered the MSCC row as well….The new area is damp anyway so I suspect I have germination up there too….will walk it good this weekend. I will try to remember to take some photos and post them.

The fourth area is the field where I planted MSCC this past fall and did not graze or anything…..this field was one of my weaker pastures and I decided to concentrate on building soil in this field…..The fall cover was marginal until spring and then the legumes put on a show with crimson clover and winter peas climbing up what small grain survived. This field is a little wet and the rain and cold weather limited the brassicas and othe broadleafs somewhat. By late spring I had a good stand and some decent biomass….I again broadcast seed and then bushogged….the good news is there is certainly plenty of new crimson clover seed out there….it had finished blooming and I checked a few seed heads and I think there was viable seed in them….I will check on this field this weekend and report back as well…..There was certainly plenty of biomass to cover the seed.

My grass in the horse area is getting so tall that Perkins and the donkeys don’t like to go out there to eat..most of the front paddocks have some cereal rye in them and it is tall..Once Star Baby walks it down a little they will follow her out there….Star Baby is not afraid of much…..