I may not be the queen of repurposing, but i do try my best. Not able to find and purchase valances of the right length and type i wanted for my kitchen windows had me tying on my thinking cap. Of course! Old pillowcases! Of all the households’ worth of stuff we have in storage, surely i could find something that would work without using an heirloom. It took me longer to scrounge through all the scraps than it did to make the valances. A couple mismatched yellowed and gross pillowslips were found and put to a new purpose and they are exactly what i had in mind!
Kick the Hay Habit – Jim Gerrish’s Tips for Getting Started
This week’s Classic by NatGLC is from Jim Gerrish. Jim will be speaking about Grazing Lands Economics at the National Grazing Lands Conference in Reno in December, so we thought you’d like to have an idea of what he might cover. Jim is one of over over 50 producers who will be part of the conference talking about innovative grazing management. We hope you’ll join us! Register before October 16 to get the reduced rate of $395, and bring a friend or spouse with you for just $175 more.
Hay feeding still ranks as one of the top costs of being in the cow-calf business in the U.S. The good news is we do see more and more livestock producers ‘Kicking the Hay Habit’ with each passing year. There is much more to kicking the habit than just deciding one day that you’re not going to feed any more hay. It usually takes several management changes to get there.
Here are what I am seeing as the top five moves for getting out of the hay feeding rut.
1. Have a plan for year-around grazing.
This doesn’t mean just hoping you have some grass left over in the fall to use during winter. It means making a critical evaluation of all of your forage resources and mapping out when they can be used most optimally. Develop a calendar of when your stock are going to have their highest and lowest demands. As an industry we have given a lot of lip service to matching forage and animal resources, but the majority of ranchers still do a pretty poor job of implementing a sound plan.
2. Change your calving season to a less demanding time of year.
It is much easier to graze a dry, pregnant cow through the winter than a lactating mama. For many of today’s moderate to high milk producing beef cows, daily forage demand at peak lactation is 50-80% higher than when she is at dry, pregnant maintenance. Late spring or early summer calving seasons work well in a lot of ranch country once you change your mind about a few things. I’ve met very few ranchers who switched to later calving who ever went back to winter calving.
3. Make sure your cattle match your environment and climatic conditions.
You really want your cattle to survive and thrive on the native resources of your ranch. The more petroleum and iron you put between the sun’s solar energy and your cow’s belly, the less profitable you are likely to be. Cattle should be able to earn their own living. You shouldn’t have to earn it for them. Consider every head of cattle on your place to be a ranch employee. Your primary job as manager is to create a working environment for your employees to do their job.
4. Manage all of your pasture and rangeland more intensively.
This does not mean graze it more intensively, this means manage it more intensively. If you do, you will get more forage production and greater carrying capacity from your land. Simply rationing out what you are already growing is one of the easiest places to pick up more grazing days from every acre. One of the strongest arguments I can make for Management-intensive Grazing (MiG) in the summertime is to create more winter pasture opportunities.
5. Change range use from summer grazing to winter grazing.
In most environments with degraded rangeland, switching to predominantly winter use is a great strategy for improving range condition. Many public lands offices are very willing to work with ranchers on this kind of positive change. We do see some agency offices and employees who drag their feet on making any kind of change, but most are willing to work with you if you have a grazing plan that will help them meet their conservation goals.
You may not need to make all these changes in your operation. It depends on where you are right now and where you want to end up being. While some operations go cold turkey and try to make the entire shift in a single year, it may be easier to make the transition over 3 or 4 years. You will take some learning and adjustments to get comfortable with the new approach. Your livestock will also need to adapt to the new management regime.
Most beef herds in the US and Canada are made up of cows that are too big and have too much milking ability to live within the resource capability of the land base. Winter grazing is a lot easier with the proper type of cow on your place. Making the switch in calving season might be as easy as just holding the bulls out for a couple extra months. Changing cow type to a more moderate framed and lower milk producing animal will take quite a bit longer.
The key point is to have a plan for making the transition with a clear target of where you want to go.
We hope you’ll join the On Pasture crew at this year’s conference in Reno. We love it because there are so many producers sharing their experience from all across the country. We always learn a lot! Remember – registration goes up to $475 on October 16!
Thanks to the On Pasture readers providing financial support.
Can you chip in? To be sustainable, we need a $15,000 match from readers to make our grant happen this year. If it’s an option for you, consider becoming an “Ongoing Supporter” at just $5/month. Being able to show that kind of support is especially helpful when we’re approaching outside funders.
Dallas and I stayed at awesome accommodation during our stay in Kenya. Located some two hour drive from Narok proper, House in the Wild offers private and serene accommodation with first class service and meals. Our small group of six had the whole place to ourselves (it was booked that way), though it can accommodate up to 12, and within hours, we were like family – arriving from Denmark, Australia, and the United States. Safari tours can be easily booked through this venue with Moses and Boston as premium guides and story tellers. Our hosts, Tarquin and Lippa Wood came in for a couple visits to make sure our stay was perfect.
House in the Wild is located on Naretoi, the 1000 acre private estate within the Enonkishu Conservancy wildlife sanctuary on the edge of the Maasai Mara. All the houses are situated with gorgeous views of the Mara River from the porch or just a few steps away.
+254 728 484 665
PO Box 961, Narok, 20500
As followers of my blog realise, I struggle mightily each late August through September with ragweed allergies. It’s been so since my middle child turned one year old in 1994. Oddly, of the three children, he is the only one who also suffers badly from same allergy. I’ve discovered this year that our home raised grassfinished beef broth either drank alone or with finely chopped onions and a pinch of powdered garlic really hits the spot.
When Dallas was younger but old enough to mow June’s lawn, he would invariably NOT mow the fairy rings which grew in her yard during the fall (after all it is dangerous and unlucky!). Fairy rings grow in wet, humid conditions – not necessarily hot, but certainly not cold. But what causes these mushrooms to grow in a circular or semi-circular pattern with such consistency?
Well, beyond the obvious reason that it is caused by fairies and elves dancing in circles, the answer is just as mysterious and inconclusive. In fact, there seem to be more folklore tales than ‘scientific’ proposals!
The science revolves around “The mycelium of a fungus growing in the ground absorbs nutrients by secretion of enzymes from the tips of the hyphae (threads making up the mycelium).This breaks down larger molecules in the soil into smaller molecules that are then absorbed through the walls of the hyphae near their growing tips. The mycelium will move outward from the center, and when the nutrients in the center are exhausted, the center dies, thereby forming a living ring, from which the fairy ring arises.”
There are two theories regarding the process involved in creating fairy rings. One states that the fairy ring is begun by a spore from the sporocarpus. The underground presence of the fungus can also cause withering or varying colour or growth of the grass above. The second theory, which is presented in the investigations of Japanese scientists on the Tricholoma matsutake species, shows that fairy rings could be established by connecting neighbouring oval genetsof these mushrooms. If they make an arc or a ring, they continuously grow about the centre of this object.
Blah, blah, blah – i’m going with the dancing fairies, elves, and pixies!
He wha tills the fairies’ green
Nae luck again shall hae :
And he wha spills the fairies’ ring
Betide him want and wae.
For weirdless days and weary nights
Are his till his deein’ day.
But he wha gaes by the fairy ring,
Nae dule nor pine shall see,
And he wha cleans the fairy ring
An easy death shall dee.
Robert Chambers, Scottish poet.
Long before the days of magnetic compasses or global positioning systems which track our every movement and tell us where we are at any given time, there were and are, plants which aided the native Indians and later the pioneers traveling by covered wagon across the United States of America. Of course, when the sun was shining, anyone can tell his directions, but after many days of cloudy or stormy weather what could the wagon master do?
Behold! The humble compass plant, a rugged, drought-resistant native plant found in most tall-grass prairies which once dominated the wide Midwest. However, given its high palatability to livestock, it is seldom found in pastures utilising continuous grazing practices, but thrives on road banks and in managed grazing systems. Whilst other plants maybe referred to as ‘compass plants,’ the one most generally thought of is Silphium laciniatum, found on prairies from Ohio to South Dakota, south to Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas.
The compass plant, a perennial which can live up to 100 years, has a central stem which is thick, light to medium green covered with conspicuous white hairs. Large basal leaves cut almost to midrib have sandpaper-like texture with its alternate stem leaves having their edges vertical and nearly always pointing north and south. The six to twelve foot (two-four metres) mature plant, also called rosinweed or pilot plant, is topped by yellow flowers, which bloom mid-summer for about 1½ months. When blooming, the stalk is very resinous and, reportedly, Indian children gathered droplets of rosin from the upper parts of the stem, where the gum exudes, to use as chewing gum for ‘sweetening the breath’ and cleansing the teeth and mouth.’
The flower heads, which are three to four inches across, resemble those of a wild sunflower. However, unlike the sunflower, its seeds, which though large, are flat and light and can be carried several feet by the wind. In addition, like other Silphium spp., the small tubular disk florets are sterile, while the ray florets are fertile. Its drought resistance secret reveals itself if you try uprooting it for transplant; the taproot may reach to a depth of sixteen feet (five metres)!
Native people prized the root of the compass plant for its medicinal qualities. The Pawnees made a tea they used for ‘general debility’, while the Santee Dakotas, Poncas and the Omahas prepared a similar concoction to use as a horse tonic. Some Indian tribes burned the dried roots to ward off lightning during storms and some believed that lightning occurred more frequently where compass plant grew and did not camp in those areas. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, doctors also used the compass plant as the following: Antipyretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, tonic, styptic, antispasmodic, and stimulant.
Information for this article primarily drawn from the following resources:
- Scott, Flannery, Pizzo & Associates, Ltd Ecological Restoration, http://www.pizzo1.com/plants.php?acronym=SILLAC
- Hilty, John, http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/prairie/plantx/compassx.htm
Compass plant is an interesting flowering plant with many uses, not to mention that it is beautiful and palatable to livestock and wildlife. The indigenous people of the United States chewed the sap as gum. It’s notable that the location of the plant can indicate an underground water source; probably because the roots can grow as deep as 16 feet which could quite possibly increase the number of lightning strikes in the vicinity as believed by Native American Indians. Makes sense to me!
The best simple physical description is provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation:
Asteraceae (daisies, sunflowers)
Compass plant is a tall, showy, yellow rosinweed with hairy stems. Blooms July through September. Flower heads are few to many, arising from a tall stalk. The flower heads are about 2½ inches across, and both the petal-like ray flowers and the central disk flowers are yellow. Leaves are hairy and deeply cleft almost to the midrib, the lobes sometimes having secondary divisions. At the bottom of the plant, the leaves are huge — to 16 inches long — but the leaves are progressively smaller toward the top of the stem. In full sun, the upright lower leaves turn their edges toward north and south, with the flat surfaces facing east and west, giving compass plant its common name.
Similar species: There are 6 Silphium species recorded for Missouri. Aside from compass plant, the other most common ones are starry rosinweed, rosinweed, prairie dock, and cup plant. Compass plant is identified by its deeply cleft leaves.
Height: to about 8 feet.
The flower of the compass plant is another fine example of God’s orderly world. He created such order from the chaos of void as magnificently viewed in the Golden spiral of our universe, the Milky Way. This pattern is found throughout the earth in the curve of a bird’s beak, the shape of some seashells, the breaking of an ocean wave, even bacteria grow at an accelerating rate that can be plotted along a logarithmic spiral and so much more. While man has repeatedly copied this pattern in his architecture and painting, the mathematical symmetry of the Fibonacci pattern has a prior claim, and that is of our Creator and Lord.
First recorded discovery was in 500 BC by Pingala, an Indian mathematician, whose Sanskrit book on meters outlined what he called Chhandah-shastra. In addition to the basics of Fibonacci numbers, his work also contains the basis for binary numeral system and Pascal’s triangle and later, popularized in the west by Leonardo de Pasino Fibonacci about 1200 AD. Applications of Fibonacci numbers and sequencing are in the Euclid’s algorithm, Diophantine equation, and in binomial coefficients, as well as recognizable in music and art, and represented in many places in nature.1
This time of year, the killdeer are laying eggs and setting on them. Officially a shorebird (plover), but often found in short pastures and especially along gravel drives on dry ground. The wary mommas will lead predators away from the nest by running, then acting as if she is injured.