Farm Update 9/22/2018


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It has been a while since I posted anything to the blog.  Today is a hodge podge day….little bit of everything.

This being a rainy day I have cleaned on the house a little, did some laundry and cooked a couple of casseroles and thawed some meat for some beef barbecue and downloaded 47 photos I have taken with my phone over the last few weeks…

Have not had Condi out for a ride in five or six weeks now….the Poor people group had a ride scheduled for today but cancelled due to the rain….so much for my five miles a week goal.

Rain has messed up all kinds of plans.  I was going to plant 200 plugs of native warm season grass on Friday….was eating breakfast and the weather man on teevee was talking about what a great day it was going to be with no rain in the forecast……. and as he said those words, it was pouring rain outside here….So I went to Ashland to grocery shop and run a few errands and get feed for the horses…Finally about three pm it was dry enough to try to begin cutting grass….the grass was nearly ten inches tall and poor Dee Dee couldn’t squat to pee.  Finally was able to finish cutting grass on Saturday but it took forever because the grass was so heavy and still wet…

A lot of the photos were of Tim’s cows who had calved when I was checking them on the weekends.  I would snap a photo and send it to him.  We had a run of bad luck and lost several calves at birth a few weeks ago and still have not figured out why….lost two sets of twins and that is not so unusual….twins are almost always a pain in the butt…My Faxton heifer had a nice bull calf and I found him dead at about a week of age….not sure what happened to him but I think it was either the heat at the time or a snake bite or both….Joe reported that he had been limping on Friday afternoon and I found him dead on Saturday Morning.  If you are going to raise animals you have to be able to deal with losing one now and then….and it is normally among the best ones…My Xena cow has a pretty Claymont of Wye heifer at her side who will most likely be a keeper.  For those who do not know….Xena is a BIG cow.  The photo of Diva is not very good…she is really a pretty little thing and got the name because of the way she acts….loads of personality and she thinks she is special.

Raising two bulls this year as well….one is my Alap of Wye son out of my CC&7 daughter.  The other is a Red bull belonging to Tim.  These are the first bulls I have raised in several years.  I am really happy with this bull and will use him as a cleanup bull on my cows and the heifers this winter.  Yevette will go to him directly as I have never settled her to an AI service.   Tim’s bull may be for sale in the spring…For my bull it depends on how the baby calves look in the spring and whether there is a replacement bull potential in the calves.

Quite a few photos of my native perennials that I have been planting the last year or two….the coneflowers and blanket flowers have bloomed all summer as well as one of the Shasta daisies,

The beauty berries are really starting to look good…this has been a great year for plant growth….I planted several beauty berries last year and this spring I thought the hard winter had killed several of them last winter, so I bought a couple to replace them…when I went to plant them the older ones had put out new shoots from the roots.  One of the new ones I got from Colesville nursery I really like…It is blooming prolifically in its first year…

Later in the Summer the boss gave me one from her garden and I planted it in the border by the stable.  It has taken hold nicely and has berries developing on it.

I used to plant marigolds and other annuals in this border but have this year pretty much converted it to native perennials.  I am not so good with the names of some of this stuff yet because everybody keeps giving me Latin names and they go in one ear and out my nose apparently….I label them but then the labels fade or get lost…I have this one plant that just started blooming this week and it is covered with tiny white flowers…really pretty.   Have to get Pattie to ID it again for me….cannot find the tag

This is the best of my eastern red columbines…I planted several but this one has the best growth and it is the only one that has bloomed.

Can smell my casseroles all the way upstairs…better go check….they look as good as they smell….cut em off to cool.  One is for supper and the other is going to a pot luck next weekend.  Gonna freeze it until Friday night

Had one of these for supper….and it was good….I have the rest of it for my lunch on Monday…

To cut grass I had to move my 27 plant buckets to cut grass where they are.  I pulled some of the native perennials I had stated from seed and transplanted them to my native gardens.  The Switchgrass I planted last winter from seed is looking pretty good.  It is over five feet tall and is seeding….there is some cool season grass in the buckets as well but I have left it because I do not want to damage the roots of the switchgrass,  I had pulled some switchgrass out while pulling out orchardgrass in the spring, and I think the switchgrass will crowd it out….I have a bucket of eastern Gamma Grass as well but one of the heifer stuck her head thru the fence and grazed it off to about 6 or 8 inches.  I think it will come back okay.

While moving stuff and cleaning up I planted one each in buckets for demonstration portability of Indiangrass, little Bluestem, Big Bluestem and switchgrass.

I also had four buckets that I cleaned up and put some of the soil primer seed mix I got from Green Cover in just to see what I get.

And these are the 196 native warm season grass plugs that will not go in the ground now until next week end.   I have a few spots where I am going to put them that need another dose of herbicide to knock back the weeds before I can plant them but I cannot do that today because it is still raining…

 

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Baling twine as a fence


 

  Baling Twine as a Fence

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Some people have scoffed when I said I used baling twine as a fence…

Well I took the fence down and rolled it up and let the horses into the forbidden zone this morning.  Photo below of the rolled up “fence”.

It works because my stock is accustomed to a good HOT fence.

It was only about 70 or 80 feet of excluded area….but even the goats had not crossed the single strand “fence”

Below is what was fenced out and the horses were sampling the new found goodies.  Even Perkins came out for the taste test but the horse flies sent him prancing back to the stable and Condi soon followed…Pete endured another five minutes or so and he went to the stable as well.

The donkeys sought out the sunflowers…Perkins like the Sun Hemp and cow pea leaves because they were easy to chew with his old teeth.  Condi pulled on a Cow Pea vine and  pulled about six feet of vine out of the millet.  The vine startled her and she pranced around dragging the vine, until she decided to eat it.  Pete concentrated on the pearl millet…

Saw this device at a clients horse farm this morning.  It is a fly trap for biting flies.  They were very happy with it and felt is had really reduced the horse fly population and caught many stable flies as well.  There was a couple of inches of dead flies in it and several who were dying…

Perkins wants to borrow my credit card to order one…

http://www.bitingflies.com/

 

Here is a shot of morning day two of access to the new stuff.  It is interesting and unusual that they are staying in the short stuff and eating the new stuff from the top down,.  The goats and cows however go into the middle and eat from the inside out.  Yesterday afternoon the goats were hidden in this patch eating…I could hear their bells.  When I grabbed the camera to snap this shot, Condi was standing in the short stuff grazing at head height, but when she saw me she took off for the stable for her breakfast.   Yeah she and the others get a token handout morning and night when Perkins gets his sustenance.

 

No Blog….I have not forgotten you


Baby Jim  back by popular demand.

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It is all the fault of Facebook.  It is so easy to post a photo and knock out a quick blurb about the photo.

I confess that I have been victim of the allure.  But finally I realized that in writing and opinions I am not a man of few words and I tire quickly of trying to communicate on a virtual tiny keyboard with my mangled and misshapen fingers……….That leaves me trying to type with a stylus and argue with auto correct about what I am typing and it is frustrating beyond belief.

So having some things to say I realized that I have a blog and it is easy and non limiting…takes a few more minutes to set it up but so much more satisfying than auto correct on Facebook.

Relative to the misshapen fingers, I realized this morning that Naproxen Sodium and Instaflex Plus is what is keeping me functioning.  I forgot to take them last night and awoke with great pain in my hand and wrist this morning from the Rheumatoid Arthritis.   The worst of my two bad knees was also making itself known.   Thirty minutes after taking them I was again functional….Won’t forget them again…

I am not quite dead yet in spite of my advancing age….I was in tractor supply yesterday and ran across a good price on some protein supplement tubs.  I asked a young man who worked there if they had a way for me to get one of these to my truck….100 lb tubs.  He brought out a cart and I lifted one off the stack and put it on the cart and he followed me and my shopping buggy through the checkout line and to the van….I saw him looking at the tub…just looking and not moving…I picked it up and set it in the van….he just looked at me.  I said, “I bet you didn’t think I could do that.”  He said, “No, I was hoping you would help me because I knew that I could not do that.”

Anyhow to the cause for this missive.

I often advise folks to use portable electric fence for pasture division and grazing management….I get a lot of funny looks…Portable electric fence is basically one or two electric wires or polywire or poly tape or polyrope suspended on step in plastic posts.

I also advise folks to use the same setup to create travel lanes between the aforementioned grazing paddocks.  More funny looks..

I try to draw out layouts and get more funny looks.

So yesterday while walking down a temporary travel lane that Marie and I put up in the mid nineties….I stopped and snapped a couple of photos of it….She and I put this lane up way back then for some reason long since forgotten in order to make her livestock management easier while I was travelling for work.  She and I put it up in about a half hour before I left for some out of state destination.  It has been so useful that it still exists today….this was when we first started managing grazing and back then it was for the cows as we did not have horses until 2003 when I got Val and Junior.

One side of this lane was a paddock we had fenced off for grazing management….I took a couple of pieces of 2 inch PVC pipe about five feet long and using a block of wood as a cap hammered them into the ground….creating an insulated post.  This works but I have since discovered that it is easier to drive a steel Tee post into the ground and simply slide the 2 inch PVC over the post making a good strong corner for poly wire.

I used the same trick to hammer some sections of 3/4 inch PVC in as line posts.

We created the lane by moving over about ten feet and doing the same thing.  On this side we used what we had available, which was step in posts and poly tape.

Been there for over 25 years and still functioning.  Here is a shot of the lane.  the left side paddocks have been grazed and mowed and had fall multi species cover crop broadcast on them in the last two weeks.  The paddock on the right side will be grazed in a week or two.

 

My horses are so accustomed to electric fence that I can now use baling twine as electric fence and they will honor it.  I am using a piece of baling twine today as a horse fence.  My guess is that the goats will pretty quickly figure it out as they are not afraid to test their limits.

No photo of this but I finally have the goats in with the horses.  Since Star Baby is no longer in residence all I had to do was see if Condi would tolerate them.  Perkins absolutely does not care and Pete is pretty easy to get along with.  Jonah does not love the goats but he does not bother them.  Condi says as long as they stay out of her groceries she could not give a rip.  So I rigged them up a place in the stable where they could escape the equines if necessary and they have resided with the horses for two days now.  It has actually helped in making the two goats that I got last year more sociable.  I can now easily touch them, where they have always been skittish and standoffish.   Nelly has long been an in your pocket goat and is constantly investigating my clothes for something edible.  I wanted them with the horses to address some of the weeds that the horses will not touch.  The goats have gone right to work on them…I have enough weeds to keep twice as many goats’ busy full time…next year by this time we should have a few more goats.

Speaking of Condi, we went up to Brunson’ this week to try out Amanda’s obstacles.  I took Condi and Stewart brought his mare Samosa.  Condi and I just walked thru them and she did pretty good…Amanda had a remote control car that she drove around the horses….Condi did not like it at first but then I was driving it and we went all over the arena with Condi following it…Another obstacle was pool noodles sticking out of some barrels.  Condi would go thru them okay but when they touched her hind legs she hurried thru them..

So we hung some pool noodles in the stable over the weekend.  When Condi saw the first one she left the stable…but after I hung it she came right back to investigate…now she has to stand between two of them to get her groceries.  She adapted pretty quick.

Perkins uses them to keep the flys off…not much bothers that old boy.

The only other obstacle that bothered her was the bubble machine….she did not act foolish and was listening to me throughout….but she could not figure out those bubbles…Once she figures something out she accepts it.

I could wave the flag all around her and over her and no problem.  I even covered her whole head with the flag and she just stood there.

 

 

 

 

Summer Stockpile


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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


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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