Catching Up


Baby Jim
Photo courtesy of The Old Cowboy Archives

9/24/2019
I was totally blown away this morning to get an e-mail from a fellow I was in the Army with at both Fort Benning Georgia and Fort Carson Colorado.

He has been following my blog for some time and noticed that I had not posted anything for over a year and contacted me to see if I was still extant.

I immediately replied and realized how trifling I have been. I used to love writing and made it a priority, but lately I have let it slide. I have been thinking about it ever since I got the e-mail…Why I have I changed my habits.. Not sure but several things occur to me as factors…

1. Changes in my life……Since I lost Marie on May 8th of 2018 a lot of priorities in my life have changed as well as responsibilities. There never seem to be enough hours in the day any more…A look around the farm shows that I am way behind on everything.

2. Old age…approaching completion of my 71st trip around the sun….hoping for a few more but can feel the trip catching up with me. Supporting more Doctors these days than I knew existed…but I must say they are making my life more bearable……Especially Dr. Carleton my Rheumatologist…before I was referred to him I was losing the use of my hands and hurt all over. He has given me back my life…

3. Have only managed to get on a horse about once a month lately….I try to make the PPRC rides but that is about the only time I get out…and then I wonder why my horse is so amped up and raring to go…DUH..a good horse needs regular riding and exercise…Now that Stewart is getting ready to ride again maybe that will be a higher priority and everything else will have to slide.

4. Changes in the cattle situation…my neighbor lost his pasture and due to affiliation with him so did I…So I have less cattle but now they are all at home…Down to two cows with calves and two heifers one of which is the neighbors and one two year old bull…he should not be with us much longer as he is going to a new home. This is the last bull we will raise…We have already banded the bull calf born around Labor day…the other is a heifer and we have high hopes for her.

5. Weather…sounds silly but weather has made life pretty difficult for well over a year and a half now…First it was too wet to do anything…All last fall was wet….all winter was a muddy mess, killing grass and ruining pastures…The rain continued into the spring….then it stopped…Has hardly rained since…Nearly as dry as it was in 2002 which was the last big dry spell we had…Pastures are all dried up and nothing is growing and it is still in the nineties in late September…no stockpiled grass for this winter. Feeding hay already…Have even thought about selling the cows but that would be sort of like cutting off my leg and watching myself bleed out..

6. Facebook….I have a number of friends on facebook and many are long ago acquaintances. It is so easy to post something on facebook and hit send and reach as many people as care to read it…So I guess I have still been writing but just not in the familiar format…..  try to find my page on facebook…

7. Borderline depression…yeah I recognize it.

All of this and a lot of time to myself have made me think a lot. Then the e-mail this morning made me think some more…and reflect on life..

I probably have a few more stories to tell.. Need to sort them out and remove any incriminating evidence..

I have never been a bad man…but I have been termed as a bad influence by the wives of every friend I have ever had…they all disliked me…too carefree…too stubborn…too unwilling to step back…too much a cowboy… Lucky I am still travelling around the sun…

Stewarts wife does tolerate me…and here lately has been feeding me with her great cooking.

 

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…

 

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.

 

 

 

 

A new adventure


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I have wanted for a while to add a few more goats to the farm beautification crew.  At one time we had five and over the last couple of years have suffered some attrition and we are down to three….this number is insufficient to do the needed jobe of brush control on the plantation….The cows help but there are just some things that goats will eat that cows are reluctant to consume…

So lately I have been looking at breeds of goats…we have historically had nubians or nubian crosses….we dabbled with Boers but found them to be, lets say difficult to manage and not very calm…maybe I had a bad sample but when I finally caught them and removed them life got a lot simpler…many have told me their boers were pets but the ones I had demonstrated little interest in human association….

Any how I have been reading and talking to folks about Kikos.  Kikos are a breed of goat developed as a meat goat in New Zealand.  They are reputed to be very hardy and excellent browsers…They are very popular in America…..that means they are not cheap….but then I have discovered that no goats are cheap anymore.  I originally wanted to get a couple of bred females but soon discovered that it would be cheaper to buy another horse.  not needing another horse I kept shopping.

I finally found a fellow who has purbred Kikos that had a couple of Bucks that I could afford.  So yesterday I went to look at them.  the idea being to buy a buck and breed my does and then perhaps resell him…. or maybe keep him for a second season and then sell him.  thus raising my own farm beautification crew from babies and having an opportunity to keep them gentle.

I arrived at the appointed time and met the gentleman, Ben Mikell.  We chatted for a few minutes and then we went through the gate and he yelled come on boys…..To my amazement a herd of bucks trotted to him from all over the field.  Below is a photo of the bucks crowed around him as he breaks off a sweet gum limb to lure the senior herd sire from the shade under a building…I was amazed at how gentle these bucks were….they crowed around both of us to be petted and loking for handouts.  As I do, he feeds them a little bit daily to keep them coming to call and to make checking easier.

Here is a photo of the senior herd sire, Magnum.  He is the big Brown Goat.  He is purebred registered New Zeland stock and is an impressive animal.  There was little doubt of his status in the herd….he was the kindly monarch and all deferred to him.

Ben repeated his trick by going to the doe pastture and yelling come on girls and they did not trot but ran to us.  Most of these girl had larger offspring not quite ready to wean.

Then he took me to a maternity area where he had three or four does with little babies three or four weeks old.  they were the cutest little things.

Anyhow it was back to the bucks and I sorted though them and looked at what I could afford.  I settled on a buck named Beaver.  He is about two and a half years old and is a good size fellow.  He is mostly white with some very light brown patches.  He is 99 percent purebred and could be registered but that involves DNA testing and several other expenses and I have no desire to be in the registered goat businees and intend to breed him to non Kiko goats so registration expense is avoided.  He also has the tip broken off of one of his horns which lowers his value considerably.  He was a pretty good sized fellow and craved attention.  He liked to be petted and be close to humans as did several of his kin folk.  that made it hard to get a picture of him…

below is Ben reading his tattoo but I was on the wrong side and snapped a shot and got the sun haze but it shows his disposition and his size.

below is a clearer picture but another buck stepped in just as I clicked the shot….Beaver is the one to the upper right.

Anyhow I bought Beaver.  He will not come to live with us until October.  The reason for this is I do not have a secure goat area to keep him seperated from the does.  I do not want to have goats giving birth in the dead of winter.  We have done that by accident a time or two and lost as many babies to the cold as we saved….So if Beaver is not here until say Mid October we will not have kids until Late March or April.

I am tickled and looking forward to the new cute little goat babies next spring.

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

Spring grazing my horses 4/1/2018


small ridingby Jim Tate,

Conservation Specialist,

Hanover-Caroline  SWCD

 

Yesterday was April 1, 2018.  It is a normal target for the beginning of grazing season at the poor farm.  So I had an opportunity to take a couple of photos of the horses grazing the lot they moved into on Saturday 3/31/2018.

I must confess that these horses have had access to a couple of paddocks all winter.  After we finished the Artificial breeding just before Christmas I have not had any cows on the place.  The heifers had not finished all of the paddocks before they were turned out so I have let the horses clean up several of them this winter.

The horses get a small handout of pellets every night.  They have access to hay 24 7.  They have access to whatever paddocks are open.  For the last few weeks I have been broadcasting some seed and closing off paddocks to allow the seed to come up and for the present grasses to begin to regenerate.  The horses pretty much stopped eating hay about ten days ago which told me they were getting some pretty good pickings.  Last week I put the horses into the paddocks of Herman’s lot and it carried them for about a week.

On Saturday I moved them to the first of the eight paddocks across the front.   These have not been grazed since fall…there are eight roughly equal sized paddocks.  My plan is to graze each one for three days and then move the stock to the next paddock allowing the grazed paddock to rest and recover.   Pete enjoys the spring grass below.

Pete closeup

Condi is not about to be left out either….her nick name is Miss Curly Tail because she has a little bit of pig in her…

Condi

Looking beyond Pete you can see the next seven paddocks or the next 21 days grazing.

eight lots

Perkins is not in the photos because he hangs out at the stable and lives mostly on his retirement rations but he occasionally hikes out to the grazing paddocks as well.   And the two mini donks, so there are several animals grazing these paddocks.

There is an interesting thing in the photo below.  Notice in the foreground there is some dark green short grass.  Where the horses are is taller paler grass.  The dark green grass is the road frontage that I mow with the mower….mowing is why I happened to be there to get the photo…I want you to notice how much better the pasture grass is than the grass that is mown with a mower.  Grazing animals can be good for a pasture as long as the pasture gets some rest and recovery time.

fence

The paddock the horses are in a few years ago was the worst spot on my property….until the year I broadcast some rye and vetch and just let it go….come fall it had grass and has done well as a part of the rotation ever since….the dark green marks the fence line…it is nothing but weeds and they are sparse…it has not been mown since last fall…you can see that Pete is in grass up to his fetlock.

fence

Below I just walked up to the fence and took a shot of the grass.  Now this grass has already been grazed for about a day and a half so they have taken the young green stuff.   But there is plenty of grass there and they are enjoying it…

grass close

My other point is about the fears that people have of horses over consuming grass.

I am not going to say that horses can not get into trouble with grass.  But usually the problems come from the management rather than the grass.

One of the biggest worries is founder…Founder is caused by a sudden burst of metabolic energy.  It can come from an overdose of any kind of energy of a combination of energy sources suddenly changing.  Horses accessing the feed room unsupervised is an example…

Dry lotted horses on a jail break to a lush field is another opportunity…

It is not the evil high energy grass….it is the sudden change in diet and energy that causes the problem.

These horses have been picking at grass shoots for several weeks….I monitored when they reduced their hay consumption and that is when I first turned them into Hermans lot, where they got a small section of grass….most of you know by now that I am an advocate of good hot electric fence for grazing control….I stick up a portable poly wire and dictate how much grass they get at once…and I gradually increase it every day until they are acclimated…..

Now even Miss Curly Tail, who is still fairly new to our system, will make a foray out to the grazing and graze for a few minutes and then she will go back to the stable area and hang out with Perkins.  They have no need to overconsume….they are already fat and sassy…