Baby Jim in Living ColorBaby Jim

Photo courtesy of The Old Cowboy Archives






An aging Baby Jim was involved in a conversation the other day about bulls.  It started because of an article about an elderly man and his son both being killed by a bull at the same time….Presumably the bull attacked one and the other went to his assistance and the bull killed both.  It is a sad event…the article made no mention of the breed or age of the bull…not that it is particularly relevant.

For a bull to kill a full grown man is little more difficult than that same man swatting a fly.  Far too many people, including those who work with and around them, have no idea of the strength and power extant within a bull.  Often today many advertisements and listings on Craigs List and Facebook can be seen, authored by modern day homesteaders looking to buy or sell gentle Jersey bulls.  Gentle Jersey Bulls is a three word oxymoron.  Baby Jims countenance is filled with dread when he sees such things.  The sweet little Jersey cow is one of nature’s wonders.  Small, gentle, efficient, prolific, attractive and productive.  People then think the same thing about their male calves….. and if neutered it is true….The steers are similar to the cows and heifers and the steers make very good well marbled beef.  Left intact, however, the bulls are subject to becoming death on the hoof.

Anyone who works around a bull stud with all sorts of bulls will tell you that in general the dairy bulls are the rankest: and most difficult and among the dairy bulls is the Jersey, while the smallest, is

generally acknowledged to be the most dangerous.   And with dairy bulls going from one extreme to the other often happens like flipping a switch……a switch that often cannot be turned back off.  When a bull decides to get mean, they seldom say I’m sorry lets be friends again….

Todays homesteaders scoff at Baby Jim’s admonitions and warnings and reply back that he is just a pet and we raised him on a bottle and he is the gentlest thing on the farm….The bovine translation is that he is absolutely not afraid of you.  And if the switch flips you are most likely to be toast…because you will not see it coming and most likely will not have had any warning or missed the subtle signs.

First….no one realizes the power in one of these animals….Oxen which are simply aged steers are extremely powerful…pound for pound stronger than horses and able to pull great loads with a simple yoke laid across their shoulders….Oxen are stronger but horses are faster and we know which one people generally prefer….

Some illustrations of power.




Several years ago Baby Jim use to breed a small herd of cows for a neighbor….they started out with one cow who had a lot of heifers.  The cows were bred to good quality Bulls via AI and the small herd was quite productive.  But they were all like pets and any time it was time to sell anything more than a few tears were involved.  Many cows were buried on the place because they did not have the heart to sell them at market.   At one point they had a bull calf that was better than any previous bull calves and they decided to leave him as a bull.  So they kept him and he became a big stout bull that replaced the need for AI service for a couple of years…Of course he was one of the babies as well, even though he weighed over a ton.  By and by Baby Jim was called on to consult on some cow related matter.  While there he observed the interaction between the owner and the bull and commented that the people needed to be more careful with the bull….It was met with he would not hurt a fly he is just a big baby….Baby Jim stated the he never thought the bull would be outright mean but any animal weighing a ton can hurt you by wanting you to scratch an itch.

About a month later the owner was going across the field on his tractor.  It was a 35 or 40 HP Massey Ferguson tractor.  He had a five gallon bucket on the tractor which the bull assumed to be feed.  The bull circled the tractor a time or two in an attempt to stop the tractor for the feed.  When the human did not stop the tractor the bull decided to handle things his way….He stopped…lowered his head and pushed the tractor from the front….It was all pretty laughable until the bull began pushing the tractor backward while the drive wheels were still going forward.  When the owner depressed the clutch the bull rolled the tractor backwards forty or fifty feet and then stuck his head in the five gallon bucket for the feed….the bull was gone less than thirty days later….

That same operation naturally loved the arrival of all new babies and they were met with loving hugs and adoration…Baby Jim observed the mistress of the manor bestowing such adoration on a calf less than 12 hours old and getting between the mama and the calf…He advised caution……”My girls all know me and they would never hurt me.” was the response.   About a year later one of her girls rolled her about thirty feet across the field.  Fortunately nothing was injured except her pride.




Now into the way back machine, with Mr. Peabody.  A couple of tales from the Youth of Baby Jim….

First was Sam….Baby Jims dad and his good friend had some cows….In the early sixties they got some charolais cows…They liked the calves so well that they decided to get a charolais bull.  Don’t know where he came from but one Sunday afternoon Baby Jim’s daddy rolled up into the yard with a bumper pull stock trailer and after he stopped the trailer kept rocking….Baby Jim stepped up on the running board to see what all the noise was about and about 750 lbs of white fury slammed into the side of the trailer….A young Charolais bull.  Baby Jim opined that he didn’t think he would unload him until he got back to wherever he came from or a stockyard which ever was closer.  Baby Jims dad said he had been put through the chute and vaccinated and dehorned and was just a little rattled and that he would settle down.   Another look confirmed that they had not dehorned but had only sawed off his horns… Baby Jim countered with the observation that if he did not settle down on a fifty mile ride he didn’t think settling down was in his future…but the older generation prevailed and the bull was turned out into the pasture and that was the last time anyone set foot in the pasture for over five years….well you could ride a horse or drive a tractor in the pasture….but no one was brave enough to walk….Over the next few years, the entire cow herd got so wild that doing anything became an expedition and when trying to trap any cows they tore down everything.  They were led in these endeavors by Sam who grew to be huge and his blunted horns grew out to about 10 inches of battering ram on each temple.

One time while Baby Jims daddy was feeding silage with a crawler loader, the bull tried to fight the loader…Baby Jims daddy dropped the loader on the bulls head and knocked him down and made him back off.  They decided that he had to go…

While baby Jim was in the army they decided to build a super pen nearly seven feet tall and stout….they would put feed in the pen to entice the herd in.  Somehow they got the gate shut….the next problem is how do you load the bull?  Now back in the day people did not have stock trailers.  Stock trucks were the rule and normally two ton or greater trucks with oak bodies and a roof.  So the bull had to go up the ramp and into the truck….how to get him to do that….after several hours of frustration and several brushes with near death, baby Jims cousin who was quite the athlete had an idea….when he saw a clear path, he jumped into the pen and sprinted across it and up the chute and practically leaped onto the top of the truck…With malice in his heart the bull gave chase across the pen and up the ramp and his impetus took him into the truck and the gate was dropped, locking him in.  They managed to get him to a stock yard and no one knows how because afterward they had to rebuild the truck body.

In the meantime another charolais bull appeared at the farm where Baby Jim had always kept his horses…there had been a few cows there for years as well…This bull was unlike Sam in that he was quiet and calm and the farm owner had made a pet of him…A couple of years later Baby Jim was working at a big farm up north and came home for a visit.  Little Charlie Brown had gotten to be a big boy and was still calm and easy but there was something foreboding about him.  Baby Jim sat down with his Dad one night and asked him for a favor.  He asked him to move Charlie Brown to one of the other herds.  His daddy agreed that it was probably a good idea, but asked him why?  Baby Jim replied that he was afraid the bull was going to hurt the landowner….Baby Jim was not so much worried about malice as he was about an unfortunate accident.

A few months later Baby Jims paternal ancestor called him one night…this was surprising as neither of them was ever noted for their conversational skills.  Both were too brief and too direct for most people and most of their communication between them was non verbal.

Anyhow Baby Jim’s sire asked him how he knew….

Baby Jim said, “knew what ?”.

“How you knew that Charlie Brown was gonna get mean.”

“I didn’t but I was afraid he might step on the other landowner by accident.  Did he get mean?”

“Almost as bad as Sam.  Glad you asked me to move him because mean as he is now we would have never gotten him away from the other place.  Bye.”

Then there was the stint where Baby Jim worked at the Richmond Stockyard between a couple of years of college and going into the Army.

On sale days Baby Jim worked intake in the morning and the sale ring during the sale.  Mostly because he was young, quick, indestructible and expendable…

One day this fellow arrived with a big black bull….Story was that he had bought the bull at a sale the day before and in loading him someone had hit him in the eye with a stick and the bull got nasty….the guy had taken him home but the bull was so irate that he never took him out of the truck and brought him to Richmond the next day…At least he warned us before he turned the bull out into the processing area…on a side note it was amazing the number of people who felt no need to warn us of bad cattle…don’t know if they were just so happy to be rid of them that they forgot to warn: or whether they took a perverse pleasure in seeing other folks scramble for their life.

Nasty was putting it mildly….he could only see out of his right eye with the left one closed and weeping prolifically.  He went through that stockyard like Sherman went through Georgia.    For any who may not be familiar, stockyards normally have a couple of long alleys with lots of gates as cut off gates and other gates into pens…designed for rough stock, the fences and gates are normally pretty heavy and tall.  One of the first steps is to get an animal onto the scale to get a weight and then get it penned in the appropriate pen.  This bull having spent a mad night in a stock truck had no ambition to be confined again and seemed intent on murdering someone…anyone really…

A common trick was to open the intake scale door and stand behind it ready to slam it shut and open the outlet doors just enough to make it look like an escape route and then slam them as well.  This bull was too savvy and too fast…he just blasted thru the scale and down the long alley…the procedure then was to shorten the alley and keep closing gates behind him until he had to go into the scale…there was a guy there on the penning side that day who had just started…Baby Jim did not even know his name…Normally his job was to just have the correct pen gate open after the scale called it to him on the loudspeaker.  In this case the guys job was every time the bull went the other way he was supposed to advance and close the next gate shortening the alley….he was doing this faithfully but he took his eye off the job and was talking to someone up on the catwalk above.  He was standing behind the gate just closed and talking while looking up.  The bull hit that gate on the opposite side of where he was and busted the latch to matchsticks.  He drove the gate over the mans body and Baby Jim could hear bones breaking.  Baby Jim was running to try to drive the bull off the man but the bull stepped into the guys midsection and mauled him with his head and then ran on down to the far end of the available alley….Baby Jim got to the down man just as the bull got to the other end and turned….Baby Jim grabbed the guy by the belt and threw him over the fence and then jumped over after him just as the bull slammed into the fence…Thank goodness the fence held.  Baby Jims rescue was brutal enough to have killed the guy…they said he was still alive when the rescue squad took him away but Baby Jim was still trying to pen the damned bull and never saw the guy again……The bull was weighed and penned.

The Big Bull Fight….

This one was in the mid 70’s.  Our hero was working at the big farm up north.  This farm had four hundred registered cows at this location.  Near the farm managers house was a Pennsylvania style bank barn with cattle access underneath and hay storage above.  On the east side of the barn were two permanent bull lots….these lots were the near permanent home of two bulls.

On the west side of the barn was a working facility and some associated catch pens and feed troughs.  This adjoined a very large pasture and on the far end of the pasture was a large grove of white pines…this was the heifer raising pasture and 80 to 120 heifers were raised there every year….the white pines were where the heifers stayed when the weather was brisk…We won’t say it was like a trip to Florida but the white pines were a terrific wind break and shelter from the snow and the cattle would rather stay there than in the barns…but the heifers were called up and fed and counted and checked in the barns daily.

In the spring they had the vet out for several days running and did the herd test work…the primary reason was to conduct a TB test on every animal to maintain the herds TB free certification.  But everything that needed to be done and could be done was done when the animals were in the chute…it took five or six days to process all the animals on the farm.  And each test had to be read by the vet three days after the shot.

The day the heifers were processed the two bulls were normally the last two animals of the day.  These two bulls were beside each other all day every day…one was a mature bull who weighed at least 2200 lbs.  he was huge….especially for a Belted Galloway….The other bull was a younger bull and was a Red Angus who was about two to three years old and weighed about 1800 lbs…not quite mature and this bull had some value….maybe 10 or 12 K in the mid 70’s.

The two bulls had to be brought around through the pens to the working facility for the test and shots and they had to be brought around separately and then one had to pass the other on the return trip.  This was done by shuffling one bull into a pen and then taking the other bull by him….On this particular day the smaller bull was feeling his oats and jumped the fence and tried to tackle the big bull….it really was no contest as the little bull had no chance but he was bound to try…..There were no less than six experienced hands there trying to intervene.   But the fight was on…sticks whips shovels all manner of yelling and dissuasion were employed to no avail.  The young bull gave a valiant effort but he had no chance from the outset….in addition to trying to separate the bulls there was a concerted effort to keep all the cowboys alive.  As one bull gains purchase in the mud the tide of battle and the direction of travel could change in an instant and everyone was trying not to end up under two tons of battling bulls.

Finally the inevitable happened.  The young bull had a front foot slip and he got pushed sideways.  The big bull, knowing he had victory, pressed his advantage and pushed on and lowered his head further until he got his head under the younger bull…recall that the smaller bull weighed 1800 lbs and the older bull lifted and threw him at least eight feet into the air.  It was a surreal moment that seemed to play in slow motion, looking up at an 1800 lb bull flying thru the air two or three feet above your head.  Then he fell to the earth  on his right side with a ground jarring thud.  And the Big bull right back on the attack.  But the big bull knew he had carried the day and allowed himself to easily be driven off by the cowboys….Baby Jim was in pursuit of the big bull and expected to come back to find the young bull either dead or badly injured…but when he got back the young bull was prowling around and grumbling the losers lament to prove to himself and all who would listen that he was still a bull.  The whole thing was easily the most awesome sight ever.  Thank goodness they were polled cattle.  Had they been horned it would have been brutal and the young bull would most likely have been gored to death.

And finally…

About twenty years ago right here at the poor farm…
Pipe Dream Farm has raised a few bulls over the years.  Never a large number, but the intent was to have a bull or two for sale at all times…

This one time there were two bulls here that had been raised together.  Both were farm raised side by side.  Nice quiet bulls with good pedigrees and good conformation and good productive capability.  They were about 18 to 20 months old and Baby Jim was taking both of them to the barn for a reason long forgotten.  Here on the poor farm we have a lane that runs about two thirds of the perimeter of the farm and via that lane animals can easily be taken to the barn and the working area.  The two bulls probably weighed about 1600 lbs each and were playfully moving along when a wrestling match broke out.  Baby Jim yelled at them and applied his stick.  But suddenly the far bull prevailed and the near bull was pushed right into our hero knocking him to the ground….the only thing to be done, was to assume the fetal position and hope for the best…. The two bulls continued to wrestle and both bulls with all their churning hooves passed over him….While he was beaten up a little and unnerved a lot, no real damage was done but there could have been some brief suffering, a quick death and a heartfelt funeral service with half a dozen people in attendance.  As it was, all that had to be done was to go back to the starting point and get the two playful bulls headed back to the barn again…In full playful mode they both ran, butted, frolicked and bucked all the way to the barn.

Neither of those bulls had any intent to harm Baby Jim…they did not even intend to harm one another…they were just being baby bulls.

The point is that the power and agility of these animals is nearly unfathomable….unless you are really lucky and live a long time to see the things that have been described above.  All of the above was real and true and unembellished.  Names have been omitted to absolve the guilty.  And we did not even report on the time Gertrude and Baby Jim chased and were chased by Sam the charolais and his herd of wild cows all day one day.  But that story has been written of elsewhere.


A compliment……. sort of

Commentary from Jim Tatearound the farm    Sep 26, 2016

Jim Tate enjoying a Ride on Dancehall Dixie, a wonderful gaited mule owned by my good friend Stewart Wickham.

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I had one of the local farmers offer me a compliment the other day…he was not trying to offer me a compliment….he was trying to be diplomatic.

To paraphrase his comments, he had noticed the crop diversity on my pastures.  He said that he couldn’t help but notice that I had a lot of strange looking stuff growing up on my place.  He had seen me out there bush hogging quite often.  He offered me the use of any equipment I might need to help me manage my pastures, specifically offering a small sprayer.

Now I do have some weeds….and sometimes when I go a good while between grazing paddocks the weeds go wild….I have one spot out front that is getting to have a pretty big blackberry patch….but that is because it is in the horse side and the goats cannot run with the horses because two of the horses like to chase them…but,  once we finish breeding cows I will put the horses on the cow side and the goats will have the horse side for the winter and early spring.

And the wet summer has kept the tractor out of two fields all year and they now have a pretty good crop of nut sedge.  The goats will deal with that over time….

I have totally different weeds on the two different sides and a more frequent rotation would be my best cure.

The milkweed from the cut over land next door last year pretty well inoculated my fields for this year so I have some of that as well.  But I don’t let a few weeds drive me crazy.

sun hemp blooming and peas reaching up

sun hemp blooming and peas reaching up

Mother Nature does not typically grow things in a monoculture…only humans do that and we convince ourselves that is the way it has to be done.

I thanked him for the offer and said I would keep it in mind.  But I told him that we have a half dozen weanling calves gaining about a pound and a half per day on the weeds.  We will graze the three horses and two miniature donkeys for about 10 months of the year before starting to feed some hay.

grazing forge six feet tall

grazing forge six feet tall

Every summer and until mid December I normally have a half dozen heifers to develop for breeding.  The current crop just entered the grazing below and I have not seen them since….that stuff is six to eight feet tall.  They will come out in the evening for their evening handout and roll call.  Don’t need to feed them much with forage like that but a little handout keeps em gentle and they come to call.


there are yearling calves in there somewhere

there are yearling calves in there somewhere

We have some rabbits that I see most mornings in the dark as I am on my way out to go to work.  Have seen as many as six at one time….The weeds is the only way they survive the numerous hawks and owls and the occasional eagle.

The greatest benefit of all is that on 12 acres I now think I have three coveys of quail this year…I can not yet swear that I have three coveys but I know I have two and think I have a third that is in pretty close proximity to the second covey.

All summer I have been reminded of my late friend Jack Ellis who was an avid bird hunter and had some good English Setters.  He hunted birds from November thru February culminating in a couple of weeks at a hunt club in South Carolina in February.  But while he did all the things DGIF suggested he never had any quail on his farm and had to go elsewhere to hunt and seldom found any birds.

I am reminded of him because every day I hear the quail calling from right around me as I am walking about and doing work around the farm, and more often than not if I am in the fields a dozen birds will explode from nearby testing my heart….Went to the doctor for a checkup this morning and he said I needed an EKG as it had been over a year and a half since I had one….I said no…I had a heart test Friday and again Sunday…I Had to work our District booth at the Fair Saturday so I skipped the heart test that day.   Fridays test was right at the upper right hand corner of the photo above.  About fifteen birds straight up and zipped into the wood line.

A couple of years ago a turkey hen nested within 200 feet of my front door in my weeds…I found out about it when one of my dogs stumbled across the nest and brought me a dead poult.

If it were not for the tall grass and weeds, I would not enjoy any of this.

I only do two things differently from anyone else…

  1. I broadcast some type of seasonally appropriate cover crop on every paddock after most every grazing and bushog it.
  2. I move the stock normally about every three days. I give them small paddocks and when they have grazed it shut them out to let the paddock recover for at least 60 days.

Of course all of my weeds are not weeds.  I think the neighbor was worried about Johnson grass.  But what he was seeing was Sorghum Sudan grass.  I do have some Johnson grass on the back of the place but the cattle love it and it only persists because I intensively rotate my grazing.

My biggest chore is in keeping the fences clear of tree seedlings.  I prefer not to spray herbicide and try to mow under the fences…but mowing well grown grass is hard on mowers and I have spent a lot of money on mower repair this year….I tried a wheeled string trimmer and it did not work for me…the horses will not graze near the electric fence, so it is a bigger problem on the horse side….

Again my best solution will be to find an easier way to rotate ruminants and non ruminants….part of the obstacle is the wife has definite opinions on what animals consider what buildings and paddocks as “home”.   And when I have calves at the house I need to access the working facilities with them for monthly weighing and such.  Another option would be to sell the horses that chase the cows and goats but they are my favorites….and a stock horse is supposed to like to chase stock.

more residue experiments update 1

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It has been eight days since I planted these buckets with cover crops.  all buckets have been watered equally and pretty regularly

The bucket with no residue only has a few seed germinating….I think some seed started to germinate and then got baked on a couple of the hot days we have had….they are still visible in the bucket…


Below is the bucket planted to the green cover mix and this bucket had the tall summer annuals and so it has heavy mulch….it was at least a 4 inch thick layer of mulch and the mulch is weighing down the new seedlings but they are beginning to show thru the mulch and certainly around the edges.


the below bucket is the one that had the goosegrass residue chopped up and it was sown to my home cover crop mix of the day.   While some plants are beginning to show thru the residue…..the entire residue mat is being lifted off the bucket.


the below photo is an attempt to show that the residue mat has been lifted a couple of inches off this bucket.


the seed scattered in the still living chicory is beginning to come up but since it is slower and not nearly as thick as the residue buckets and it is the same seed mix.



more residue experiements

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Building on the curiosity I created within myself with my gravel tubs, I have embarked upon another experiment.

In the early summer I brought four of my cover crop buckets to work.  One had chicory planted in it and the other three had various summer cover crop plantings….

Bucket require almost daily watering because the have limited soil reserves and these bucket did not do well over the long hot summer…too many days I was not here to apply water.

But I endeavor to persevere.

This morning I cut back everything but the chicory, a perrenial.  and I applied cool season cover crop seed to all four buckets and watered it in thoroughly….

the bucket on the left is the chicory….I sprinkled some of the mix I am seeding with at home on it and watered.   the bucket on the right started out as a summer cover but was taken over by goose grass which apparently came form the fraction of horse manure that was in the bucket.  this one was sprinkled with the same seed and mulched with the residue from the plants cut off.

chicory left goose grass right

below is a photo of a partially harvested residue….I cut it off and then cut it up with hand shears and then reapply it to the bucket after seeding.

part of the residue from the left bucket

in two other buckets I had two more treatments.  these two buckets both avoided the goose grass infestation and had what was left of the summer covers….  I had begun harvesting the bucket on the left when it occurred to me that I ought to take a picture….

summer stuff left half harvested

These two buckets got two different treatments….

The bucket on the left was seeded to some old green cover sample jar seed that was two years old….so I put it on pretty heavy…then it was mulched with the residue from the summer plants.

The bucket on the right was seeded with the same mix I used at home and was unmulched with no cover.

after seeding left mulched right not

I worry that it will feed the birds but nothing ventured nothing gained.

unmulched my mix

the seed mix from home   This is the volume usually broadcast on a single grazing paddock of about a tenth of an acre….I just grabbed a few handfuls from a mix to seed two buckets…



the label from the green cover seeds has seen better days …..I can read

black oats, winter peas, crimson clover, nitro radish, forage collard, purple top turnips and I think barley.

since this is at the front door of the our office I should be able to keep up with it in a reasonable fashion and will try to post observations….Or you can stop by and watch for yourself….

I planted chicory at home and was thrilled with it…six or seven feet tall and beautiful blue blooms most of the summer…Thus I am including it in my seedings again this fall….I found that it can be frost seeded or spring seeded or fall seeded…..what I wanted was a deep rooted perennial…..deep rooting limits its ability to grow in buckets especially crowded so it is not showing well in the buckets.   The stock devour it….



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

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