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.
Time for an update on the annuals. It’s now been 33 days since planting on the 26th of May and it’s been terribly dry until just now.
The soil had some moisture in it when i tilled the 18 acres the first go on 18-19 May, but then we received a rain (4/10s) which delayed the second tillage until 25 May, at which time my husband seeded the hills right behind the second tillage so we could wrap up this project for the first stage.
Then weather set in hot, dry, sunny, and windy. Some of the seeds germinated and some even sprouted and grew. If we didn’t get a rain soon, those brave spindly plants would soon wither and die.
At last, over the course of 14-15-16 June, we received 1.5 inches of rain and temps cooled just a little bit – a breather for plants, soil, animals, and man.
Rainfall has been scarce until 28-29-June, when a gully washer of 7 inches fell in a bit over 24 hours. Thankfully, not much soil moved because i was careful to leave grass strips and there was still some dead plant material. Ideally, there would have been new root growth to help, but the previous dry weather compounded by my poor soil restricted growth tremendously.
So, bring on the next 30 day! With that 7 inch rain and little of it running off, there should be a massive increase in forage growth. Excited!
As a first step of my endophyte infected fescue eradication and pasture renovation project, today was the big day of tillage. My husband had purchased a Howard Rotavator 600, which is 10 foot wide sod-cutting and chewing machine and the soil (actually just dirt, it’s in pathetic condition) it’s been through gave it a real workout. Even the tractor couldn’t keep up and i had to sidle over and only take 2′-5′ bite of new sod at times, especially going up hill. This first pass took place on May 17-18, 2017.
One pass tillage next to existing stand of grass. Serious clay content. Methinks some of this worked up harder than if i took down the gravel road!
All in all, i mapped out about 18 acres actually tilled. There are about 25 acres total in the area being renovated, however, because of the steep slopes, several acres are left alone to serve as grassy waterways. I wonder, however, as hard as the ground is, if the tilled portions won’t actually hold and stop more water than the hard pan waterways. Hmmm.
So far, 12 hours spent (1.5 acres per hour) tilling, but not counting time servicing tractor and machine or time spent getting to/from the farm. Tractor uses about 7.7 gallons diesel fuel per hour, so 92.5 gallons there. Second pass should take a bit less time, but we’ll see!
We received a big storm last night with about an inch of rain, so the second pass won’t happen for a few days – depending on weather. Allen will be right behind the second rotatiller pass with the Einbach harrow/seeder and my selected annual grass mix.
We just received the new issue of Stockman Grass Farmer magazine and inside is a small feature entitled, “Allan Nation‘s Journal Jottings.” This is a little section to share some of the many notes Mr Nation jotted down while reading. Allan Nation died last November and thankfully, his wife, Carolyn, and friends are bravely moving forward with his vision of helping farmers become better graziers. Check out Stockman Grass Farmer. News, events, books, DVDs, CDs, and all sorts of archived information.
Guidelines for Young People
Find out what you really want to do before you go to college.
Go to work for a small, fast-growing business at any level.
Show up for work on time, look, and dress sharp
Keep fixed living costs low. Rent, don’t buy.
Where does the money come into your employer’s business? Get to that spot as close as possible.
Don’t be overhead.
Don’t go into business for yourself until you are 30.
Work in your career field at any level while you are going to college.
Consider getting a general business degree.
Make sure you understand the core business model you are working in.
Started in 1988, Green Hills Farm Project is non-profit, family-oriented, sustainable agriculture group of like-minded farmer families who support each other in sometimes crazy ideas. Each month, we meet with a potluck and farm tour at members’ farms and ranches and once annually with an invited guest speaker. This year on 4 March, we welcome Jim Gerrish, world renowned grazing expert, back to his old stomping grounds at FSRC (Forage Systems Research Center) at Linneus, MO to share his unique perspective with a presentation entitled, “Grazing Around the World.”
Here is your invitation! (GHFP meetings and farm walks are open to the world)
Jim Gerrish, author of Management-Intensive Grazing – The Grassroots of Grass Farming and Kick the Hay Habit – A Practical Guide to Year-Around Grazing, is our guest speaker at the Green Hills Farm Project annual winter seminar March 4, 2017 At FSRC (Forage Systems Research Center, Linneus, MO). Known world wide as an expert in management-intensive grazing systems, Jim is also available for private consultation. Today’s seminar “Grazing Around the World” will be exciting insight into grazing management in many different climates and cultures from Jim and his wife, Dawn’s, personal experience. American GrazingLands Services, LLC. Jim and Dawn now reside near May, Idaho.
This annual seminar has a cost of $30 per family and will include a one year membership to Green Hills Farm Project. Please bring a potluck/carry in dish for lunch. More information contact Allen Powell at 660.412.2001 or myself (tauna) – email@example.com
Boy, howdy, now there’s an exciting title and one to really pull in a reader eager to learn about such a thing. Well, not, of course, but to cattle farmers and ranchers across a great portion of the United States, it’s a reality that sucks an estimated $1 billion out of our collective pockets EACH year!
in 1943 Kentucky 31 variety of fescue was commercially introduced and sold, it seemed at first a godsend to sod forming, persistence, deep rootedness (soil conservation), and production for cattle and other livestock producers. In the late 1970’s, scientists at last identified that fescue hosts a fungus that can produce toxic compounds called ergovaline. However, it is important to note, that reports of toxic effects of grazing infected fescue have been around at least since the early 1900’s. Why didn’t the light bulb go off that there is a problem that needs addressing BEFORE scattering it all over the US!? The only answer that seems reasonable is that establishment of the grass is cheap and easy and the resultant health concerns in stock are a silent drain.
Whatever the case may be, I’m now on a mission to eradicate to a degree as much as possible toxic fescue from my pastures. In so doing, cattle health and numbers should increase, calf gains and cow milking ability should increase as well as reproduction improvements. Additionally, soil health and tilth should improve, thereby increasing its moisture capturing and holding capacity (resulting in less runoff and erosion). Lastly, but certainly not least, ridding the pastures of tall fescue will greatly improve wildlife habitat – especially ground nesting species such as quail.
The fruits of this project will likely be for the next generation and i ask myself if it is really worth the expense and effort to make a bold move in such uncertain times of low cattle prices. Time will tell, i guess.
I think I’ll put these entries in a separate category so my reports and progress can be easily accessed. I’m no Pioneer Woman like Dee, (ya gotta admire the outreach she has done with her whit and way with words), but if you have an interest in organic, no chemical, minimal tillage farming, pasture renovation, cattle rearing for producing clean healthy food while improving (regenerating is the popular term) our environment, come alongside and join the conversation. I will enjoy any questions.