Found a local producer (Don Hoover) for pretty good hay late in the season (January). He delivered an unloaded 2 semi loads (76 bales) each bale weighing 1385 lbs. (Still have my 100 bales or so of warm season grasses stored in the barn. Hope i don’t need them – depends on the season.)
Sadly, I’ve already fed them all out (the 76 delivered bales), but back on decent (cow quality) winter stockpile grazing for a few weeks now.
The extended extra cold is really sapping the energy out of the cows although with good feed, they and their calves really don’t notice the cold – thankfully, it has not been rainy and wet – it’s really tough to keep cows and 8 month old calves in condition then.
Supposed to warm up to just above freezing tomorrow, then a few days clear up into the 40’s and maybe 50’s. Happy camper here!
Well, buggers, both my husband and son are sick with the croupy head and coughing junk. Dallas has had it for nearly 10 days, my husband got hit yesterday, but woke up with it already down in his lungs – he sounds bad. If he feels bad in the morning, he’s gonna go ahead and make a doctor appointment.
Since we are nearly out of beef in the freezer and completely out of bones, I stole the big bones that were intended for the dog that i had the butcher cut from our own grass finished cow to make broth! (thankfully, i was able to get a cow booked in to the butcher on the 6th of February).
The bones are kind of big, but thankfully, they still fit in the pot. I pack the bones in the pot and fill to 2 inches to the top of the pot. Bring to a boil, but watch it or it will boil over and make a mess, then turn it down and let slow boil for 3-4 hours.
With tongs, carefully lift out all the bones. I then set the entire pot outside to cool so the saturated fat will float to the top and solidify. Yes, a little fat is good, but these bones will make a lot of fat, it’s really overwhelming in our opinion. Once solidified, i remove it from the top and put into a tub with lid for later use.
Warm the remaining liquid. Now, you can just eat it this way for clear broth – maybe add some salt or pepper OR what i did tonight, was to the 1 gallon of broth is one large onion chopped and sauteed in some of the beef fat, 1/2 cup dried parsley, 1/4 cup dried sage, 2 tablespoons celery salt, and about 3 cups of sliced carrots. Slow boil until carrots are softened to however you like them, maybe 20-30 minutes. Ready to serve.
This afternoon is forecasted to be a return to almost normal weather. Everyone here is looking forward to that to be sure, especially given that this is the second winter in a row of being exceptionally long and cold. Like last year, there has been little opportunity to do outside work, so we’ll all be in a rush to catch up once the weather cooperates.
My difficulties, like last year’s, have been pretty much self-induced. From not castrating the ram lambs in a timely fashion (so I have lambs being born now in this bitter weather) to having purchased fall-calving cows which are STILL calving. Had four calves born just this week! Thankfully, the calves have come without trouble and are doing well. The lambs, however, simply do not have enough body mass to survive the cold – more specifically, the wind and cold – so I’ve brought them indoors for nursing. It is unlikely that i’ll be able to get their mothers to take them back after being bottle fed for 3 days, but I will try this afternoon.
I also did not allow for enough stockpile grazing. When winters were more normal, it took about an acre of good stockpile per cow to get through the winter. However, winters have become more severe so it not only takes more food for the cows (because it’s extra cold and damp), but also the stockpile deteriorates months before new grass comes on in the spring. This year’s stopgap was to purchase and have delivered 150 additional bales of hay to carry me through another long and difficult winter.
It’s very difficult, i suspect, for anyone in the US to believe in global warming, but certainly there does seem to be some climate change and either I’m going to have to plan better or I need to move to a warmer climate. Even if this is a cyclical pattern (and i suspect it is), moving still sounds like an attractive plan.
Interestingly, we have begun considering the option of purchasing most or all of our hay needs and selling off our hay making equipment. Purchasing hay and unrolling it for feeding, not only feeds the cows, but adds considerable nutrient and fertilizer to the soil. We may also use hay feeding as a way to expand the cow herd without expanding our land base. Land has become far too expensive to buy now because of the government enhanced commodity support programmes and vast amounts of pasture land have been ploughed up for row cropping.
Additionally, the fences and trees have been pushed out to make more acres to plough, so it’s unlikely to return to pasture anytime in my lifetime. However, maybe it’s best not to purchase more land as my husband and I both approach retirement ages. We actually may not retire because we enjoy what we do, but we may cut back and additional land means additional expense and management. If we expand using purchased hay, we can cut back anytime. If we were to sell our land, it would be ploughed immediately by the new owners.
Bitterly cold today and with ground frozen hard, the best job for today is to unroll hay for grazing. The plan is to strip graze it for the remainder of the winter. This will add considerable organic matter to the soil. When the cattle and sheep have cleaned up the hay and pooped all over the paddock, I’ll broadcast legumes and grass seeds over the area. Hopefully, i’ll have a chance to unroll more hay over the top for grazing, but our weather is so unpredictable that that is not a certainly. I may just walk the cattle around on the area to encourage seed to soil contact, then graze it occasionally as the original grasses grow. Once the new grasses take hold and grow (all depends on the weather), then the livestock will not have access for about 60 days for full growth. Sure hope it all works.
I’m no soap queen, but since I want the best soap available for my family and myself, the least expensive is to make it myself – although that is still not cheap. The time spent and the materials to purchase or make add in to dollars per bar. However, when it’s so icy cold outside, this is the time to restock our soap supplies for the year or sometimes two year’s worth!
If you figure your cost of soap remember to add in the cost of skin oils or lotions you use. Commercial soaps typically have the glycerin removed so it can be sold to you in a separate bottle of lotion. Home-made soaps still contain the naturally occurring glycerin.
Although it has been cold, it certainly is convenient for cooling the lye quickly! Nothing more romantic than standing in 4 degrees Fahrenheit under a full moon at night stirring lye water! 😉