Category Archives: Cattle

Repairing/Rebuilding Trashed Feed Bunks

Doing MUCH better with ragweed allergies to the point that, as long as i stay far away from the plants themselves, i can spend considerable time outside without effects and even without taking meds.  Almost back to health.

So, during this transition, i’ve taken the task of dragging all our bits and pieces of feedbunks together and making a plan to repair and rebuild to the extent of my ability and with no other expense except labour and reasonable amount of time.

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This feedbunk frame will be attended to last – i think this chrysalis is still going, so i’ll wait until the monarch butterfly emerges.
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Drill hole through liner and into the metal frame, then screw in these screws to hold tub in bunk properly.
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After the tub is screwed into place, the bunk is turned over to reveal all the missing braces that will need replacing.
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I dragged an old mangled gate out of the trash pile to cut to length for the bunk braces.  This DeWalt sawzall (reciprocating saw) does the job in no time.
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After cutting a piece of the gate to 30 inches,  it is placed in the bench vise as shown.
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Then with some muscles, I crank down the vise to squish each end flat.
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After marking proper placement for the hole, i use the drill press to make it easier to drill a hole on each end.
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Then mark the spot on the feedbunk and drill a hole through the brace with my handheld cordless DeWalt drill.
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Line up my newly made brace with the existing brace on the bunk and run a bolt through. I’m not spending any money on this project, so using old bolts we already had.  However, i discovered the old bolts were fine thread, so i did have to purchase fine thread hex nuts at $.19/each from Orscheln’s.
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Ripping old board salvaged from another project into four strips to be used as replacement runners on feedbunks.

 

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Drilled then bolted runner to existing rotted metal runner.

 

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Project almost complete.
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Added chains on one end to make it easier to hook onto to move the bunk around.  Chains are leftovers from old and mangled gates.
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Finished!

Permanent Ley Scheme

Horribly dry here and no chance of rain in the forecast!  However, it’s perfect for disk ploughing and rotatilling sod pastures so that they have ample opportunity for the grass that is turned up to die.  On the four paddocks i’ve selected this is mostly toxic endophyte infected fescue and other weeds.  Except for the 18 acres that i had tilled this spring and were involved in the annuals scheme, the remaining 32 acres is established pasture – pastured that has been grazed for at least 55 years.  Tilling it up created quite a clatter on my rotatiller.  Rocks, rocks, and more rocks.  There basically is no topsoil on my pastures except in the low spots along ditches.  Sad – very sad.

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Rainfall on 21 August 2017 – very nice and quickly absorbed by thirsty soil, but hot, dry, and often windy even until now 17 September 2017.

 

 

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Settings we used for a mixed sized seed batch on our John Deere 1590
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John Deere 7220 and John Deere 1590 planting permanent pasture mix.  I hope to never have to work the ground this much.  I’m no farmer!
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Seed ordered and mixed by Welter Seed & Honey.
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Note the difference sized seeds which makes how to set the no-till drill tricky.  At least for us; we are just learning.
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Dallas loading the no-till drill while Allen and Andy discuss what settings to use.

 

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Using the 7220 John Deere tractor which has front wheel assist to pull the JD 1590 no till drill.
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Here is the mix i ordered from Welter Seed & Honey, Onslow, IA.  Really appreciate their personal and quick discussion and advice.  Mixed and shipped very quickly.

 

So how in the world did i come up with this mix?  After reading Robert Elliot’s book The Clifton Park System of Farming and Laying Down Land to Grass, i’ve been interested in his trials and observations.  I used a permanent mix found from Cotswold Seeds and interestingly it is even labeled Clifton Park mix!  How weird is that?!  The link here describes it in depth;

‘LAMINS’ Drought Resistant Four Year Grazing Ley Dry, Light Land

Pulled into the first sod bound pasture land (Paddock 15) with the John Deere 4250 and the Howard Rotavator on 29 August 2017.  Granted, i know most recommendations are to have this seeding done and in no later than the 20th of August, but this year just wasn’t going to allow it.  And thankfully, i didn’t get in earlier; had i put these seeds in slightly moist soil, they may have germinated, sprouted, then dried up in this heat and dry weather.  As it is, the seeds are just resting in that super dry soil waiting for just the right conditions to grow and thrive.  The concern at planting late is that there won’t be good growth before freezing weather and a long winter.

 

(On the 1st of September, i mustered my bulls and hauled them (Allen and Dallas helped a lot), i spent too much time outside and became overcome with ragweed allergies.  This kept me sleeping and recovering in the house for two days.  Andy was able to take over for me so we kept on schedule.)

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16 September – RAIN!  Slow and gentle, but with damaging winds.  Total amount received two inches – perfect!  Yah is gracious.

 

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So to wrap it up with costs:

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Figures from 2016 Custom Rates for Farm Services in Missouri

That’s a lot of money!  and doesn’t even include the $60/acre spent earlier this year in lime spread.  Hope it all pays off – i don’t want to ever have to do it again and with managed grazing, it should last many lifetimes.

Shalom!

tauna

 

Annuals Scheme – Final Analysis

Today marked the last day of my experiment with rotatilling, pneumatic drilling/harrowing, and grazing annuals as part of a pasture improvement scheme.

Grazing comparison data is as follows:

2013-2014 – Paddock 22 – 3218 lbs, Paddock 23 – 1871 lbs  Total:  5089 lbs

2014-2015 – Paddock 22 – 3567 lbs, Paddock 23 – 2007 lbs  Total:  5574 lbs

2015-2016 – Paddock 22 – 2072 lbs, Paddock 23 – 1222 lbs  Total:  3294 lbs

2016-2017 – lost all my records

2017-2018 – Paddock 22 – 1547 lbs, Paddock 23 – 695 lbs    Total: 2242 lbs

As you can imagine, i was shocked at the lack of grazing days provided by the annuals, but this was my first experience.  When i turned them in on the annuals, the cows and calves grazed it all down in four days!  In a few days, i was able to turn them back in for a couple more days grazing to boost that yield just a bit.  However, at this point, the paddocks will take a very long rest.  One thing i did not observe and record in previous years and that is cow condition.  At least for this year, these cows were slick and shiny healthy coming off the annuals, but they were that way going in, too.  So…..

So, in a nutshell, it cost me a total of $1842.12 to plant 18 acres of annuals for grazing.  The purpose of annuals to help rejuvenate the soil microbe community and not necessarily for gain in grazing.  Good thing, because it certainly failed in that department.  However, as i had written before, the goal is to eradicate toxic fescue and build organic matter.  It does look like that has happened at least in short term.  It is very hard to measure long term benefits.   However, from this point, i’m planning to tack the sail and switch to tilling then no-till a permanent ley (grassland).  Whether or not that will work remains to be seen, but i’m keen to find a way to reduce then eliminate any tractor work.  I hope to get that scheme underway and perhaps even completed this week.  This new scheme, although i do plan to till before planting to permanent ley, will provide a side by side comparison of planting annuals first vs planting permanent pasture once and done.  There will be a few spots, too, that won’t be tilled and seeds will be drilled straight into established pasture.

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I drive through the annuals with my Gator to make it easier to set up a polybraid fence through it.
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Grazed part next to ungrazed annuals.  That tall stuff still standing in common ragweed.
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My ground is very poor in most areas and this is all it will grow in a 65 day period of the annuals.

 

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This is along the fence line (see fence on the left).  What a difference in where i tilled and planted vs undisturbed.  The ubiquitous Kansas ragweed (lanceleaf) is still thriving where it is undisturbed.

 

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Those cows didn’t waste any.  They really, really enjoyed eating the succulent annuals and snarfed down the volunteer yellow foxtail.  The stalks are trampled nicely.
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This is a close up of the left behind common ragweed.  That step in post is 36 inches tall.
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A closer look at the Kansas (lanceleaf) ragweed in undisturbed soil.  Same step in post.
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Larger area shown here of what is left of the annuals after grazing.

 

Spraying Done for this Year

One of the main projects i had planned for this year was to spray brush.  Truly had hoped to cover the entire farm, but there is just so much that between regular work and windy or rainy days – well, i did get quite a lot done actually and i’m pleased.  My focus did switch to completely covering (spot spraying) the west 160 and that was accomplished by July 1.  It is important to keep track of that date because three years from then, the farm can be used to grow certified organic crops.  Weed and brush management from now on will have to be by brush hogging and intensive grazing.  One of the ironies of ‘certified’ organic is that i can’t chemically treat individual plants even once for three years, but i could burn all the fossil fuel i want mowing them down.  But rules are rules.

So to finish the project also means to clean up and put away the tools used.  My 30 gallon spray tank and pump were purchased new at Orscheln’s this year and i hope to get several more years’ use out of it.  Their brand name is Country Tuff and it has worked flawlessly all season.  I did switch out the coiled hose for a straight one we already had – i just didn’t like the coiled one.

For the chemical, the easiest and most effective in my opinion is Crossbow.  i buy it by the case (4 gallons) at a cost of $200.46 at Butterfield & Associates Grain in Meadville, MO.  Mix half gallon to 30 gallons of water and you are ready to go.  This spring and summer, I sprayed about 1200 gallons of mixed spray.  That’s about 45 hours worth of spot spraying.

Cleaning up:

  1. drain and rinse out the tank with clean water
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This photo shows that i place a 2×4 between the tank and the edge of my Gator bed which keeps the tank from rubbing on the side and also keeps the clips that hold the sprayer wand from breaking off.
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i used a couple tarp straps around the tank to secure the tank in place.  The 3×3 inch board in front keeps other items from bumping against the tank and the motor.  (My Gator is usually full of other stuff)
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Under the motor, the draw pipe is located.  Shown here, i’ve undone the pipe from the tank and showing the screen is partially plugged.  The sprayer will operate with this little bit of stuff clogging it, but you will definitely notice a lack of spray distance.  It’s important to use clean water and keep stuff out of the tank which can clog the orifice and screen.
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I’ve cleaned the screen and replaced it.  (Yeah, i know, i need a manicure badly!)
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This tube actually had a small part of a leaf in it when i set out to clean the tank for storage.  I knew i had a lack of power and had cleaned the screen before.  I just thought maybe i had run the motor so much it was worn out.  However, i have no doubt now it was because of the leaf blocking this tube.  I’ll remember to check that next year.
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Inside the tank is the draw tube.  This is where that leaf had gotten trapped.  i’ve cleaned it out now.
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The electrical plug and wire goes from the motor and up through my Gator back window and down under the passenger seat to the battery.
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Horrible photo, but black to negative and red to positive for battery connections.
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Cleaned, drained, ready for winter storage
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Properly labeled as to what was used in this tank and when.

 

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

The Bull is in the Freezer – Part 2

Allen had his checkup on 8 August.  Doctor’s orders full in work.  There I was upsetting the cart trying to make things run more smoothly in anticipation of the previous call of a 10 week recovery .  Thank goodness all is back to normal.  Only 17 days.  So many prayers – powerful!

As a dear friend says:  “Absolutely AMAZING!!! Wow, what favor from our Creator!”

Cheers!

tauna

 

 

Cows on the Annuals

It's been a rather busy and momentous month, so i'm way behind on reporting on the annuals for grazing and pasture improvement project.  Here are photos of growth at 60 days.  Turned the cows in on August 1, 2017.  Yah willing, my final report will be coming soon.  It will take some number crunching and analysis, so will be several days, but i'm ready to put paid to this project.

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The Bull is in the Freezer

On the 20th of July, as Allen was bringing round the last of 22 bulls for semen checking, it turned on him, knocked him into a board fence, then commenced to roll him around and punch down with its head.  The veterinarian and his man were in the pen lightning fast, beating the bull back and, son, Dallas, grabbed him under the arms and dragged him to safety.  I called 911 to no avail, so after being transferred  to another line and explaining the situation and state of emergency a second time – we gave up and Allen wanted to get in the back seat of my pickup for the 15 minute ride to local hospital.  Despite incredibly slow traffic through Laclede (that NEVER happens), I made a fast 95 mph drive once on the highway with lights flashing and honking my horn so no one would change lanes in front of me.  Met not a single copper!

Long story, but 7 broken ribs (badly broken), but no punctured internal organs and no bleeding was enough to send him on by ambulance to University hospital at Columbia, MO, where he was stabilized, scanned, and x-rayed then waited in ER for five hours before moving to a room.  He had surgery to insert drainage tubes out each lung which drained for several days, then spent about 5 days in ICU.  Still had one lung partially collapse, but on 29 July he was released.  Moving mighty slow and on pain meds, this will be a very long recovery, but it could have been so much worse.  If it had to happen, could not have been better timing since all three children are home until the 17th of August.  (almost a month long visit) with Jessica not leaving until the 24th.

John, who worked for Allen and his dad for 44 years and officially retired now nearly 2 years has jumped right back in to help tremendously with the work load.  I will be making major management changes to allow Dallas and me to manage until Allen is fully recovered which will be a minimum of 10 weeks, but perhaps even longer.  He needed to make changes before but wasn’t wanting to – this may make him accept that he’s no longer 25.

Be safe out there!

tauna

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Huge thank you to Purdin Processing for coming out on short notice. My latent anger finds joy in killing this bull. Thanks to Jessica for taking extra fat to their shop so the ground beef won’t be too lean. Stay to the right! (recently returned from Ireland/Wales)
Explanation: As some of you know, Allen was beat up by this bull Thursday morning last. He is in ICU at University. Earlier he didn’t want me to tell anyone, but the news is out now. It’s been really rough week. Seven broken ribs and beat up lungs but chest tubes are out now. Deep breathing has improved a lot, but pain is not under control.
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Jessica sorting steers from heifers as we prepare for selling calves on Monday at North Missouri Livestock Auction, Milan, MO.