Experiments around the farm



Jim Tate

Jim Tate



As always click on any photo to see it larger….use your browser back button to return to the blog.

I liked the new letterhead that I made for the OP-ED article so I am going to use it again…The mule is my good friend Stewarts good little mule Dancehall Dixie….The jackass riding the mule is yours truly.


I have a lot of photos I took of various things this morning as I was working.  The photos are from the cell phone and I cannot see to aim the thing in the sunlight so the photos are not as good as my regular camera.  The phone camera is just as high a quality but if you cannot see to aim it the photography suffers.


This is the mornings work area…the three pvc pipes are the left hand boundary of the two lots grazed by the heifers this past week…this area will be broadcast to cool season seed mix and bushoged and closed off while the cattle move to the next lots up the hill.

mornings work area

In sowing yesterdays lot my shoulder bag seeder when kaput….so while I was out yesterday afternoon I stopped by home depot to get one they advertised on line….but they failed to have one in the store….

So I stopped at tractor supply and found this one for a little more than half the price and I think I am going to like this one.

ground work

Metal gears that are exposed and can be lubricated.  Metal seed opening adjustment.

metal gears

Real good seed distribution.  Easy adjustment for volume and easy cranking….

seeding rate

Below is a step that I got behind on this year…and I have been paying the price.  I did not trim under the electric fences the first time we grazed and then the crops got over them and I have been trimming fences ever since…this works for me as well as anything…a mower with the wheels set as high as I can set them….lot easier than a string trimmer..I have a wheeled string trimmer and it is worthless.  This little mower handles blackberries and small trees and poke berries and the residue.  More on residue to follow….residue is important…Part of what I want to illustrate is the amount of residue I am leaving….in this paddock the residue probably averages 8 inches high or more…I could make them eat more…

But that does not leave anything for the livestock underground….building the soil microbia is a key component to building the soil….this takes underground roots and surface residue…my goal is for the livestock to take half and leave half and I think we have come closer to it this year than any year in the past….a good part of the credit must go to the timely rains we have had most of the summer….water is the most important nutrient.

residue mower

I have learned some things this year…It is not awful for grasses to go to seed.  I have a couple of wet paddocks that I could not get into to seed or bushog after grazing….these paddocks had a pretty good mat of walked down residue and I wondered how it was going to affect the grass…the orchard grass and fescue  had put up seed heads and they had matured before it got dry enough to even let the horses in that area.  Now a month or so after grazing I have new grass showing all over the lot.  Natural reseeding.  I am also seeing increased red clover in areas where I have not seeded red clover in a couple of years.  In addition if the livestock grazed those seed heads they help with the reseeding.  Yes I get a few weeds but weeds have some value as long as they do not take over…bush hogging after grazing will control the weeds.  I actually need more goats to graze with the cattle for better weed utilization.  My lazy goats are not hungry and lay about the barn most of the day.

The morning light was not the best for the photo below. It shows the stages of the lots mown and sown the last three weeks.  Last weeks has barley up about three inches tall today.  The grasses are too fine to see.  Clover is starting to become apparent.

last three weeks

I mentioned above that I have lots that did fine without mowing…the only reason I mow regularly after grazing is for weed control and to suppress the existing vegetation to allow the new seed to get established.  A good grass stand will not allow much competition to get established.

Below is where I will talk about what I learned about quantifying the value of residue just this weekend.  Some background is in order.

A couple of years ago I attempted to set up an aquaculture experiment…raising fish in rain water tanks and using plants grown in gravel to filter the water and fertilize the plants…My experiment did not work because I could not find an economical 12 volt pumping system…small pumps would not pump enough water and the fish did not get enough aeration, and pumps of sufficient volume killed the battery beyond solar charging capacity.  So for a couple of seasons now I have just scattered seed in the tubs full of gravel and observed what would grow.  Last summer I dropped some improved crab grass seed in these tubs and grew a whale of a crop….no nutrients just kept it watered growing in pea gravel.  In the fall I dropped some cool season cover in it and had a decent spring cover crop, again just gravel and water….when the cover crop faded with summer heat the crab grass came back,,,naturally reseeded…I normally water my cover crop buckets daily and also water these tubs…

Now, these tubs have a valve system to keep them from getting water logged and if full, the drain opens and drains the tub…sometimes a heavy rain will trigger the valve and I have to refill them…so I check the water about every day….Normal transpiration will use about two to three quarts of water per day.

I decided to drop some cover crop seed in the gravel again this fall…the crab grass and buckwheat had overgrown the walking area so I decided to cut it back…I took some shears and cut it back to about six inches and generated a pile of residue.  After I generated the pile of residue….I thought why not chop this up and mulch the seed with it…the second tub I did not cut as it was not in my walking area.  The residue I took off when chopped up made about a five gallon bucket of mulch….I put it on the seed and it made a layer at least six inches thick….All this was late Friday afternoon.   I did my regular watering during that evenings chores.  Saturday afternoon the tub with no mulch required the regular two quarts of water.  The tub with the mulch require 1 pint of water….only one quarter of the normal amount.  I will try to see how long the effect lasts.  Same on Sunday….two quarts in the tub with no mulch and about a pint to the tub with the mulch.

Photo below is the mulched tub and then the two tubs side by side.

Update 9/7/2016

the mulch tub is still only using about a pint or less of water per day…..the unmulched tub is using a quart and a half to two quarts depending on the heat of the day.   the fall cover crop is coming up in both….more easily seen in the unmulched tub but the cover is coming up through the mulch in the mulched tub.  will try to get some new photos


mulched tub

two tubs




Op-Ed 1. Clarification and Explanation

Jim Tate

Jim Tate OP-ED page         Edition 1.  8/13/2016

Clarification and explanation

It has again come to my attention that a lot of people do not understand me.  Many think I am just a sour and mean and old fashioned old man….this is not necessarily erroneous, as I admit to these tendencies.

But my bigger problem is that my most effective means of communication is through the written word…..but I just cannot do it in 140 characters or less as demanded by the world today.  But then I do not think many people can communicate a thought process in so few words….make a statement yes….but communicate a thought process no…

So I am going to try a new process.  I am going to create a section on my blog for Op-Ed….I have sections for the farm, and conservation articles and for stories.  So one more section won’t be a burden.  In the Op-Ed section I will endeavor to communicate the thought process behind my opinions of the topics of the times.

My first topic will be on Felons and rights restoration.

Since the founding of our country there has been a list of rights of citizenship.  Unfortunately the founders did not see a need to create a parallel list of responsibilities of citizenship as they had just fought a war for independence and the population was well aware of their duties as citizens.  I am a firm believer in personal freedom and personal responsibility.

Let me illustrate how it was simply taught to me as a child…..I had the freedom to stand around or walk around and swing my fist wildly in the air.  This was my personal freedom and my right……

Until my fist hit someone else in the nose….my rights had then just infringed upon someone else’s freedom and my responsibility became engaged…. I was responsible for the damage.  I was responsible for the harm.  I was responsible for the social repercussions.  And worst of all I was responsible for the butt whipping I likely had in my future when mom and dad heard of it.

Today too many talk about their rights with absolutely no concept of the hand in hand responsibilities.


Our social justice code is based on the same concepts.  Each of us has a set of rights and a set of responsibilities.  When our rights trample the rights of another our responsibilities kick in and part of that responsibility in our legal system may be the suspension of some of our freedoms.  The entire penal code is a listing of the possibilities of forfeiture for socially unacceptable behavior.  We must also acknowledge that socially acceptable behavior is a moving target….those spankings that my generation got would quite possibly land today’s parent in jail.  This is not necessarily a good thing as it is the duty of the parent to install a sense of socially acceptable behavior in their offspring…

Back in the old days it was the kids against the grown ups…they were all watching us and they all knew we were guilty…we just had to be caught….and the testimony of an adult was more compelling than the testimony of ten kids.  And at my house part of the responsibility was getting to go cut a proper switch.

Todays parents will often fight you if you say anything un praiseworthy of their little darlings.

Goodness knows that I have committed more than one social blunder, and paid more than one price.  Continues to this very day…remember the target keeps moving….

All of that is background for my opinion on the felons rights issues.

Our legal system has an absolutely valid process for the restoration of rights to reformed felons.  I have absolutely no problem with this process.  When someone has changed their ways and makes an honest effort to adhere to the moving target of social mores.  When they have paid the assigned price in terms of money or time or suspension of rights.  When they have demonstrated their ability to function as valued members of society and adhere to the rules of society.  I am all in favor of them being reinstated as fully productive citizens with all the rights and responsibilities pertaining thereto.

This process has worked for decades, on an individual case by case basis.  It is not cheap and it is not easy but is has been a part of the long established process.

My problem is with the carpet bagger political operative who wishes to strengthen his position in the mafia that the democratic party has become….The current governor is non Virginian political operative of Mafia Queen Hillary Clinton who somehow got installed on her model of You don’t have to live here to govern here…

His goal clearly was to attempt to deliver nearly a quarter of a million potential democratic voters in a swing state to the butcher of Benghazi by using the model of emperor obumer and bypassing the normal process and acting by executive order.  This not only bypasses the established procedure.  No one had done any due diligence or had any understanding of the applicability of the process to those on the list.

It is blatant political opportunism with no regard for the law.  The governor is a very charming and engaging individual and could sell snow cones to Eskimos.  I have seen people nearly swoon after meeting him.  But that does not change the fact that he is a con man and a charlatan who is playing political games with our states highest office.

Unfortunately he is not the first to do so.  His predecessor talked the talk of a conservative statesman while he worked to build his political future as well.  Until greed and corruption were exposed leading to his downfall.

Americans and Virginians must demand accountability from our elected representatives and we must demand both freedom and responsibility…

Some of these politicians need to learn to go and cut a proper switch.

PDF Aug 7, 2016

big triangle west seeding 8/5/2016 BROADCAST BUSHOG rye 7#, basic mix 5#,dwarf essex rape .5#, apm 1#,  cc .5#, hv .5#, turnip 2 oz,
ell 2a seeding 8/6/2016 BROADCAST BUSHOG rye 7#, basic mix 5#,dwarf essex rape 2 oz, apm 1#,  cc .5#, hv .5#, turnip 1 oz, , blue grass .5#,
ell 2B seeding 8/7/2016 BROADCAST BUSHOG pearl millet, 4#, tate summer small seed mix 1#, cow peas 4#, korean 1#, cool season high diversity mix 3#,  rye 3 #,  crimson clover .5#, hairy vetch .5#