Archive for the ‘Crops – Pasture’ Category
On Sunday, the temps soared to 46 degrees!
In the back pasture, the four foot high fence is nearly buried and the yellow snow is water flowing through the snow from a drainage in the adjacent field. We’ve got a lot of melting before spring comes.
A temporary river started flowing through a low spot in the back pasture. It was strange to see and hear the sound of running water. Here Martin is walking on a fence over the flowing water. This time of year the snowpack can be deceptive as the top of the snow can look white and normal, but if you step in, it could be a couple of feet of slushy flowing water just below the surface. These are fun days for the kids – to run around in conditions that often don’t happen – like water flowing through big drifts where where is usually not any water.
Now that the temps are in the 90′s – that means just one thing – it must be time to make hay! We were invited to help at Two Friends Farm this weekend.
How’s this for a date?Â Sitting on an empty hay rack after the unloading 100 or so bales is a good rest.
Starting out a new rack after one was under our belts.
Even Emma and Claire were enthused about helping and took their turns on top of the racks. It’s great to now have kids old enough to handle a bale of hay. We figured we handled about 8 1/2 tons this afternoon.
one year ago…
Today is the first in a series of views of the farm. I went to each corner of the property (and the midpoints) and took photos in different directions. This view is from the NE corner of the property. I did some of this a decade or so ago, but wish I had been more thorough as the shots are kind of hit and miss.
This is from the NE corner shooting diagonally towards the SW. You can see the brush piles from the ice storm and an old granary in the back pasture.
This is the view looking due west from the NE corner. It shows three rows of trees, this year’s planting furthest to the left.
This is the view due south from the NE corner. It shows the first row of trees along this boundary.
Here’s a picture of our new portable electric fence. The name of this fencing is “Permanet” as it is designed to be left up for the whole season, if necessary. We get our electric fencing from Premier Fencing in Washington, Iowa. Many people swear it is the best you can get.
We’ve used some of the poultry electric netting and been pleased with it, so when we found this version that is taller and firmer, we thought we’d use it to start some rudimentary rotational grazing in the back pasture.
This picture cracks me up – it shows that forbidden grass is always better than grass you’re allowed to eat. The goats were just turned loose into this pasture that goes all the way to the fence in the distance over the goat’s back. Where do they choose to eat first? They stick their heads through a fence guarding a tree to get at the “good” grass.
The boundary fence was completed in short order.
“All” that is left boundary fence-wise is to re-string the electric wire around the perimeter and this new line. Eventually, if the planting goes as planned, a new fenceline along the east edge will be in order as well. But that is a much bigger project.
Another nice June-like day in the upper 70′s. Started working on some more fencing (it will never end). Went to town to pick up wholesale buying club order, got some cardboard sheets and more cattle panels and T-posts. Martin is a great 5 year-old worker. Sometimes he asks what work we can do outside.
Here he wraps up the rope that held the panels down on top of the truck. It’s a pain to load/unload them from on top of the truck, but I don’t have a trailer that approaches 16 ft and the truck does, so up they go. The truck has now graduated into the heavy-duty farm use where scratches and dents only add to the value.
Martin was able to drag the panels into position (as long as the location was downhill).
He also was good at distributing the fenceposts – he moved about 75% of the posts to the correct places along the fenceline. All I had to do was get the panels off the truck, drag the uphill panels, and take the binders off the posts that banded them in groups of five and Martin did the rest. The fence is in position, we just need to pound the posts and put up the panels. This is the fence along the SE property boundary.
The weatherman promised rain most of the day, but it really didn’t seem to come as heavily/often as we were led to believe. That gave us a chance to get some much-awaited spring chores done. First was overseeding the back pasture.
Martin’s job was to reseed the cow trail. He did a good job and seeded all the way to the property boundary. We spread about 25 lb of seed over the 2-3 acres.
I’m also behind on fruit tree pruning. Between the cold until early March, ice storm/snow, and week away, it is a little later than I’d like.
I was able to get 90% of it completed. Linda started all the seeds that need a jump – flowers, tomoatoes, peppers, etc.
Martin was a good helper, filling the peat pots for Linda. I also got new fittings on a water tank, so it comes out a one inch hose instead of a garden hose. So the things that had to get done, got done today.
Here’s a look at the furthest east side of our pasture. You can barely see the rows of Christmas trees on the far side and you can see the fencing of the hardwood trees on the left side. For now we’ve decided pasture is not the highest and best use of this ground since we have so little land and need a higher return than we can get from a few grazed cattle.
There’s a bit of higher ground on the far east side, and you can see where a couple of rows of Christmas trees will go. Down the center of the picture, we are investigating woody ornamentals that can stand wet feet. They’re in a low spot that floods maybe once or twice a year if we get a quick, heavy rain in a short time when the crops aren’t in the adjacent field. It doesn’t stick around for long, but does move through pretty good.
We’re looking at curly willow and other brightly colored willows and perhaps some marsh-loving plants like iris in the low area. The willows can be mowed every year and as a side benefit will offer great goat browse as well. I must admit – I do like researching and planning a farmscape like this. A great advantage of doing something totally different than the rest of the county is we’re the only one doing it. Of course, the disadvantage is that we’re the only ones doing it! I do however like the diversity and experimentation that we can indulge in on our little piece of old prairie ground.
It’s not often December 30th brings 50 degrees – we used the opportunity to get a start on some work that is usually done in late March or early April – pulling up and putting in fence. We’re moving the entire line of fence on the north side out another 10 feet so we can plant another row of trees in the north windbreak/Christmas Tree patch.
Here’s Marty working the post puller. It was actually so wet, that we didn’t need this – the posts could just be pulled out.
There’s something about working in a warm rain – I’m not sure it reminds me of camping, or if the rain provides a slight sense of urgency to get done before the rain increases. It was not unpleasant and good to get out.
Although it might not be as noticeable in this late evening, low-light photograph, this shows how rotationally grazed pastures can hold up better in a drought.
In the center there is a long rectangle fenced off from the rest of the pasture where we have planted trees. The grass outside of the fenced off area is continuously grazed. Inside the fence simulates rotational grazing (periodic mowing). The grass is much happier (and greener) since it has a chance to recover between grazing episodes.
If a tuft of grass is eaten once, it grows back – if it is eaten a second time, before it has had a chance to recover and grow, its roots can’t keep up and it gives up. The lush grass in the middle shows the power of periodic, instead of rotationally grazing. The net effect is the same amount of pasture can maintain more grazing animals and be healthier.
Today, the oat buffers along our farm were baled. Since all my wagons were occupied and there were only 13 or so bales, we just used the truck to pick them up.
There was a short waterway that we couldn’t get to using the tractor and baler, so we snuck the truck in and picked up the loose straw hay (still has the oats attached)
We’re looking forward to using this as bedding in the chicken coop in the winter as it will give the hens something good to scratch in the winter.
It was good work (it didn’t take long) and there’s something about making hay that is rewarding, no matter how little.
Today’s entry doubles as this week’s Photo Friday Contest entry. This week’s theme is “Summer.”
I had just a little bit of raking to do today on the buffer strip in the neighbor’s field. I borrowed the neighbor’s rake and hitched up the Farmall Cub to rake the oat straw.
Nothing says summer like making hay on a hot day.
Today was a day for some fencing configuration. First we put up the portable electric netting fencing.
Martin is hauling over the “power posts” for the netting. You can see it is all laid out, the path is mowed, and today’s good fortune was that the 164 foot length was about perfect from the side of the chicken coop to the fence next to the pine trees. It was also close enough to the electric fence in the main pasture to hook onto that instead of putting the solar charger out.
Here’s the fence ready for action – works on chickens and goats alike. Love this stuff.
We also took an odd portion of the main pasture and fenced it in with cattle panels to keep the cows out. Thought it was time to put the goats on a different pasture for a while, plus there are some mulberries they’ll mow down first.
What more could a guy want than a tractor to do the heavy lifting and a wife to do the pounding! It was nice to have the tractor to save the back by pulling out and putting in posts.
Martin and I finished mowing and hand weeding around the trunks of the new trees. I want to make sure there are not good mouse/rabbit hiding places in the the tall grass, so out it comes. Then we distributed one truck load of mulch to about half the trees. They are looking good. I has been very warm the last few days – 88 today and humid – more like August than October. By the end of the day I was wiped out as your mind doesn’t wrap around the fact that it really is hot out in October.
One of the baby Bur Oaks, the state tree of Iowa and the central feature of native prairie savanna.
A southward look at “hardwood alley” the center of our back pasture planted with bur oak, sugar maple, black walnut, black cherry, and chestnut. Perhaps someday it will become the nexxus for a raceway rotational grazing track.
An eastward look at “conifer alley” on the north edge of the pasture, perhaps offering Christmas trees and/or a windbreak.