All posts by tannachtonfarm

A 13- year homeschooling mom (youngest graduated in May 2015!) who is also a cattle and sheep farmer married to a cattle farmer. My three children and I enjoy traveling and spending time with family and friends. While this blog will chronicle our journey of Faith, Family, and Farm, opinionated articles on frugal living, traveling, recipes, and homeschooling experiences may be found sprinkled throughout!

When to Calve

To all there is an appointed time, even a time for every purpose under the heavens: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pull up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to let wander away; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew together; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (Hebraic Roots Bible)

For the past several years, my cows have been bred to calve 15 April to 30 May. Though that is earlier than i prefer, it was a decision i made some 8 years ago because i was having up to 30% death loss in baby calves getting scours. Scours so bad that sometimes the calves would die before they even passed that first scouring poop! That was calving 15 May to 30 June. So after a great deal of research into the possibilities, i made the decision to push it back. And that made all the difference – not one single case of scours since that time.

Now, i did sell those cows which lost their calves, so that is likely a good part in the reason there are no longer any cases of scours, yet it’s not the full explanation. Corriente cows tend to have rich milk, which, combined with the heat caused by grazing toxic fescue and the outside air temperature may cause additional stress on baby calves.

However, today’s weather is a reminder of why April is too early in north central Missouri to start the calving. Although my calving season officially starts 15 April, there have already been 6 calves born – fortunately, the weather has been decent until today and it is pouring down cold rain, muddy conditions, temperature at 46F (wind chill 40F) and a stiff 14 mph NNW winter type wind. Very hard are on young and newborn calves.

So, yesterday, after hearing once again from Jaime Elizondo (others have advised as well and i know better), i plan to wait to turn in the bulls 23 July for 45 days. It is with trepidation that i make this change when, despite crappy April weather these past several years, i’ve not lost any baby calves.

Here is to change once again. On the other end of it, it’s always a problem to wean calves the first week of March when grass is yet so far away and there is bitter weather ahead of them. Calving later will allow me to wait another 2-3 weeks before weaning the following year and the cows will have better weather in which to regain good condition. However, leaving the bulls in a couple more weeks is the only way to avoid me being in ragweed season to remove them. (many of my decisions revolve around ragweed season due to me being incapacitated during that time)

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

This is a calf born several years ago which i lost to scours – you can clearly see it is not feeling well. Born later in the spring.
Calves born earlier – before the onset of toxic endophyte fescue – thrived! This Longhorn cow had a dandy heifer calf.
Never plan to have cows calving in the winter! This was a purchased cow which the seller assured me they were spring calvers – he lied.

Winter Squash Rolls

Oh my goodness – found this recipe – modified it a bit – and, VOILA! New one for my family recipe book. What an absolutely awesome use of all that frozen winter squash in my freezer. Pumpkins, Jarradahls, Acorn squash, butternut, and probably Queensland Blues.

WINTER SQUASH ROLLS

Makes 12-24 rolls

INGREDIENTS:

1 ½ cups cooked, smashed, cooled winter squash
1 cup scalded milk
2 scant tablespoons active dry yeast
½ cup warm water
6 cups Sunrise Mills flour
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup butter

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  After bloom (about 10 minutes), add 5 cups of flour (I use a combo of whole wheat, bread, and white), sugar, butter, squash, and milk.  Stir with dough hook as you are slowly adding each item. Add the remaining cup of flour as needed for nonsticky dough.

Lightly oil the bowl and turn dough to coat with oil, cover bowl with a damp towel.  Rise 1 hour (maybe a bit more) in a warm spot.

Divide the dough into 12 or 24 pieces (I go with 24 because we simply don’t need a huge roll).  Form the pieces into rounds, then place on a lightly greased 12 x 15 baking.  (I used a stone).  Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double.  45 minutes or so.

Bake at 400° F (200°) for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy!!!

Holy, Just, and Good

Romans 7:12 – So indeed the Torah is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. (Hebraic Roots Bible)

Romans 7:12 – Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. (New King James Version)

Scriptures for Life | The Law

from Torah Family

Shabbat Shalom!!

Shoulda Listened the first time

Ten years ago, my good friend, Jim Gerrish, (American Grazinglands, LLC) stopped by on his way from his daughter’s house back to his home in Idaho and we walked my farm, which he was already familiar with from his days at FSRC as lead grazing specialist, (and as our neighbour) and he worked up a paddock design and grazing plan. I did not follow it to the letter, but just recently, I have taken MiG (management-intensive grazing) to the next logical step in Total Grazing concept as taught by Jaime Elizondo, I am moving fences and retooling. Early this morning, i woke to the possibility that i was moving towards Jim’s original design and recommendation. I pulled out the professional consultation booklet and, sure enough, it is nearly precisely what i’m now moving towards. Now, the changes are not huge, but they are critical and a good workout.

Now, in my defense, there is a reason that i didn’t go entirely with his plan and that is because the EQIP program i signed up for which paid for all this fencing required solar water/temporary water tanks. Since i am not comfortable depending on solar/battery water pump when checking the cows only every 3 days, i could not, in my quality of life choice, rely on solar pump supply. My pump doesn’t have a check on it, indeed it will pump for 45 minutes per battery then completely drain that battery and the solar panel cannot recharge it once it is flat. That is a problem. Now i have significantly improved that situation because now two batteries are linked together. In other words, if the cattle drink a lot at night or when the skies are super dark for an extended period, the batteries will allow about 1 1/2 hours of continuous pumping and will be flat if there is no voltaic recharge during that time. However, having two batteries there has not been a charging failure.

Since I’ve discovered the new (to me) Total Grazing program in which the best balance is 4x moves per day nonselective grazing (for cattle satiation and soil/forage improvement), i will be at my farm nearly everyday or as often as possible so i can keep an eye on water supply from the solar pump. There are a lot of other things i can do whilst there, plus being away from home, maybe i can lose a few pounds by avoiding easy access to food. In fact, today i am actually looking at quality tents so i can spend more time camping and fishing in the two big ponds i stocked with good fish a few years back. (Any recommendations on waterproof tents?!)

Okay, back to the story – Jim figures with my soil types (but not having tested how poor and depleted they are), that 400-500 animals units could be sustained year round on my 520 acres. However, despite 3 day grazing periods and 40 day day rest periods, i found that the carrying capacity has appreciably declined each year even though a LOT of hay was being fed. Something had to change leading to selling off some 76 head of cows/calves last fall. There are but 75 animal units now and i still am feeding some hay even now, in large part, to protect the tiny green plants trying to grow – May 1 is our traditional ‘start of grazing season’ date in north Missouri. The decline in numbers is also due in large part of leasing out 120 acres to organic soybean cropping these past 4 years.

Jim also uses an 80% seasonal utilization on cool season pastures and 60% for warm season, but MiG as i was implementing it, couldn’t come close to that! Therein lies the change in movement, allocation, and observation of gut fill, manure consistency, and plant growth. BUT, and this is a big but, it will require me to be at the farm full time. Given the distance to drive there is the challenge to try and fit into a quality of life long term decision. But my life has far fewer demands on my time now that the children are educated, grown, and gone (except for Dallas – thank goodness he has stayed to help!)

Cheers!

tauna

Stop being Lazy!

Wrestling with the option of moving my cows across the road to the Bowyer Farm or setting up 1/3 of a mile of poly braid and step in posts, then cajoling the cows to follow me nearly a mile to hay bales set for bale grazing, i decided to do the easy (but wrong) of moving them across the road ….. until i listened in on Jaime Elizondo’s Q and A session on total grazing/adapted genetics. Someone asked a question pertinent to my situation and Jaime’s answer goaded me into the proper choice.

In actuality, this afternoon turned out sunny and reasonably warm, so it was a pleasure to do much walking. The cows were taking their afternoon nap, so after encouraging those lying down get up, they decided to patronize me by following me to the chosen paddock with hay. They were quite pleased with the grazing selection.

Set up with Thorvin kelp and natural salt in the mineral pan and a 200 lb tub of 20% mineral supplement (to help with digesting the high fiber diet), they settled in and seemed content for Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom, my friends!!

tauna

Why was this the right decision? 1) keeps cows from grazing those young plants trying to green up and grow. Grazing too soon will set the grass growth back for the entire year! 2) the green grass will be too high of protein and likely cause squirty manure which can lead to loss of body condition and a host of infirmaries due to high pH in the gut.

Most were happy to chow down on some good hay – others wanted to nibble at a speck o’ green.

With my new total grazing scheme, this little Delar Small Burnett plant will have a year without grazing (well, can’t control the marauding deer) to fully express its potential.

Total Grazing/Genetic Adaptation

Hoof impact, at high densities, allows for breaking any crust in the soil surface, improving gas interchange to where our best forage species thrive.  Saliva, applied close to the crown of our forages, enhances regrowth by up to 80%.

Dung and urine contain microorganisms that enhance soil life.  But if we apply chemicals to soil or livestock, we may end up killing soil and insect life.

This goes against maximum production with the low-cost biological methods required to increase humus content in our soils.

We must remember a ranch or farm is a living organism and should be treated as one.”

Jaime Elizondo

Real Wealth Ranching

Garden Cut Back

For decades, i’ve answered the age old pull and call on the human psyche to plant something in the spring. Despite my efforts, i’m woefully inadequate in the quest to feed my family and myself. However, even if i didn’t rely on others who are master gardeners, i could survive on what i can grow.

My family doesn’t eat much of what i can actually grow, so it is time to cut back. So much food already goes to waste in this country, there is no use me adding to the garbage pile (actually is fed to the chickens or composted).

I put up so many jars of apple butter last fall that i cannot even give it all away. Great strides were made in that effort, yesterday, at the Green Hills Farm Project annual winter seminar, but there are still far too many jars left on the shelves. I’ve appealed to Dallas to NOT LET ME EVEN PICK THE APPLES OFF THE TREE this year.

Anyway, since my fruit trees are getting a bit larger and my annual garden has been underneath them, it’s time to start pulling it in and let the fruit trees take over.

What will i plant this year?! Still considerable variety, but far fewer plants. I have way too much food stored that will not likely last much longer.

  1. Green beans – only enough for me to eat this year in stir fry. I plant these awesome long pole beans, but no one likes them except me, so i need to find a new variety to grow. Any suggestions.
  2. Squash and pumpkins – only 1 or 2 vines each – i have tons of seeds – actually, i just threw out a pile of seeds for the chickens to eat.
  3. Heirloom Tomatoes – enough for fresh salads and plenty to make Bright Red Catsup and pizza sauces. My top three favorites are Salvaterra’s Select, Amish Paste, and Hungarian Heart (Oxheart) plus i planted some Black Pineapple cherry tomatoes Allen’s ICU nurse (the bull encounter) gave me.
  4. Watermelons – a few more plants since each plant produces very little. I use Congo – very sweet though mine only grew to a small size.
  5. Herbs – catnip (for fun), lavender (because it’s pretty), cilantro (very tasty),
  6. Okra (Star of David) – because i like it and it’s easy to grow
  7. Cucumbers – Beit Alpha – extremely tasty for fresh eating
  8. Zucchini – only 1 or 2 bushes this year, i had to freeze up so much last year and i don’t want to do that again.
  9. Sweet Peppers – Sweet Chocolate
  10. Broccoli and Cauliflower – Calabrese and Early Snowball
  11. Peas – Amish Snap and Swenson Swedish
  12. Kohlrabi – great substitute for onions or celery and easy to grow. I’m using Early Purple Vienna but i may try something new next year.
  13. Lettuce is our favorite – I use a mix of greens from Seed Savers Exchange and hope to do a better job of succession planting – however, our hot summers put paid to this cool season crop.
  14. For fun, I’m going to plant a Queensland Blue squash and the seeds from a blue squash i purchased at Peter’s Market in Waverly, MO. I thought it was a Queensland Blue, but it may be a Jarrahdale.

What are your favorite garden items to plant?!