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.
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.
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.)
So to wrap it up with costs:
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.