For some reason, farmers of old (and, sadly, probably some still) thought that throwing old metal farm implements, myriads of rolls of barbed wire or woven wire in ditches, along with old hedge posts would somehow magically make the ditch stop washing. Nothing could be further from the truth! However, it could be said that throwing trash in the ditch answers men’s idea of ‘cleaning’ sort of the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ that women simply cannot fathom. It’s still there for goodness sake!
Blessed with incredibly fine weather and a wee bit of time and some great help last week and after owning this property for about 26 years, this 50 foot stretch of ditch had the metal pulled out. Because of the junk, the water simply pools and won’t allow healing. Once I graze the pasture down this winter with my cows, I’ll burn all the wood trash and cut down as many rubbish trees as necessary to allow this ditch/draw to grass over and heal, so erosion will STOP!
What a surprise to find these fine implements stacked alongside the ditch – most are in decent working order, though too antiquated to be useful except as yard ornaments.
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.
We have been truly blessed to have splendid weather so far into the autumn season. This has allowed a considerable amount of extra outdoor work to be accomplished – making up for the lack of such earlier in the year due to constant rain.
However, signs of winter are moving across the country, so it’s time to get serious about it. We’ve been feeding some hay since it was nice and dry, but that seems to be past for a while, so back to grazing. Too bad for deer hunters at all the rain this firearm season.
At all places, we’ll have set up two polywires across an ungrazed paddock ready for winter stockpile grazing. With the warm weather, we’ve been able to keep the stock on paddocks with only a little regrowth, but that will soon change once the nighttime temperatures drop below freezing. It’s important, too, to not graze too short this time of year unless you are purposefully doing so to ‘set back’ the existing grass and root system.
At my south Missouri farm, Dallas, Christian, and I worked nearly all daylight hours to set out hay bales for bale grazing, clearing brush, and building hi-tensile perimeter fence.
Friday morning, however, we finished up and took some leisure time. We don’t often do that. Ziplining in the southwest Missouri Ozarks. Branson Zipline is an awesome place to go with great guides. Fun time. And, yes, even I stepped off the platform into a 100 foot freefall!
With cold weather coming, it’s time to address the livestock water tanks. Allen sat down this morning to make a list of his tanks, which he’ll either shut off and drain or some he’ll turn on the leak valve and allow the water to run through the overflow pipe. The moving water won’t freeze up. He has 74 tanks to attend to while i only have 10!
Another stunningly beautiful weather day here. Just a touch of frost on the windshields and crunchy grass early this morning.
Woke up about 4am since i’d fallen asleep so early the evening before, but with a horrible headache. Took some Tylenol, fixed some mate, then opened the door to let Thunder in and along with him a bird flew in! Weird. So a little early morning excitement – Allen and i finally coaxed it out by turning off all the lights in the house and turning on the porch light. Birds are not like bats, they have to see where they are going.
My main project for today was to load up those little calves i talked about earlier and the thin bull and take them to market. Now we don’t have those baby calf feeding chores which frees up about 45 minutes a day! Not to mention just the inconvenience of being tied to this task twice a day. Most of that time is taken up with preparing the bottles and feeding the bottle calves. There is also no more feed costs.
Next big project was to prepare another 16 foot cattle panel into a circle which is what we use in south Missouri for decorative and useful end posts for fence. Once these are filled with rocks (and there are plenty of those on my farm there!) then they are set to go. Beautiful and functional at once. It is hard work to fill up them up, however.
Dallas put the second coat of linseed oil/mineral spirits on his lawn tractor trailer yesterday and took out a couple bales of hay for my cows up north. He also moved several more bales from the neighbour’s farm. We bought the rest of his hay bales just recently and while it’s dry, we are moving them off his farm as quickly as possible.
This afternoon and early evening will be spent at the Forage Systems Research Center‘s 50th anniversary with guest speaker, Dr Fred Martz, professor emeritus and former FSRC superintendent. It’ll be nice getting to visit with friends we haven’t seen for some time.
One of the negative aspects (and i’m NOT complaining) is that with this unexpected warm weather, vacuuming or sweeping dead face flies and Japanese beetles off the floor around windows and sills etc is a daily event.
Each morning and evening, I have 5 orphaned peewee calves to feed along with two orphaned bottle calves. A nuisance to be sure. Once they are started good and I have time, I’ll take them to the auction before winter. Someone else will like the chores more than we do.
Last night, after dark, Dallas, Allen, and I mustered 12 calves from the TT place across the road to their mums who Allen had moved earlier in the day. He should have checked them before dark! We were able to move all but one blind calf. She’ll be up waiting today.
The electric company guys came yesterday whilst I was gone and cut down these two dead trees from near the power lines. I had only called them about a week ago and here they are so quickly. I was glad they were willing to do this dangerous job for us.
Need to get back to these birdhouses I cut out from an old barn gate using a pattern for bluebird house from the Missouri Department of Conservation. Boy, repurposing lumber is a challenging undertaking, but it is rewarding to keep this lumber from just burning. Still need to screw on the tops and cut out the hole. I’ll leave the decorating to Dallas – he’s more creative than I am. We have a lot of small antique farm junk to use. Not sure what we’ll do with so many birdhouses – maybe Dallas and I can hone our skills enough to make something worth selling. I lined these up today – does that count for doing something?! 😉
Rolled up about 875 feet of polywire and picked up the posts, giving my ET cows and some late calving heifers of Allen’s another break of fresh grass.
Lunch was such a hit yesterday with beef fillets and broccoli, that I made the same today. Which was quick and easy since I had sliced the whole loin yesterday morning when it was still somewhat frozen. Being partially frozen, meat is much easier to slice. These fillets I sliced about 1 1/2 inches thick. Pan broiled in butter from grass fed cows is our favourite way of preparing beef fillets and lamb noisettes.
Since it may rain tomorrow and i need to go to Chillicothe, I headed to my farm to shift the cows. That sure made them happy. I opened another paddock as well since I can’t get back up there until Tuesday. Took out mineral and drove the perimeter to make sure the fence was all cattle tight. Finished my fencing project at my farm this afternoon with driving another 10 or so fiberglass posts and attaching the two hi-tensile wires with cotter pins. I’ll be feeling that tonight – I can see some Tylenol in my future – the ground is really hard right now. Tightened it all up – done.
The guys are nearly done with building my perimeter fence. They finished today’s plans in the rain. It was not a full day of working since Allen took his dad to the doctor this afternoon. If the weather holds, probably tomorrow will see it done.
Upon my return home, i found the peewee calves in the yard waiting for me! Guess i accidentally left a gate open. So glad the bulls hadn’t wandered up to the barn and out as well! Got some feed and they followed me back to the barn easily. One of the bottle calves is not feeling well – i noticed her not being up to par this morning and she is worse this evening, so i pushed her into a corner and shot her with Red mix and a vitamin B complex. Hopefully, that will knock whatever rattles out of her. She has a good appetite, though, so that is a good sign. She and the other calf sucked down their bottles in good fashion.
Enough chatter for today!!
Nearly dark, Allen and Dallas pulled in. Dallas collected eggs and we all sauntered back to the house, enjoying the lovely evening.
Now, a long evening before bedtime – maybe i can talk these two into playing a few games of UNO. We are all tired, but it just gets dark so early.
Sunday – Hot, super hot, so first thing I took down, rolled up, and reset three sheep netting through a bit of timber so that the sheep could have shade! They could die in this heat without. Took up the polytape and posts that had divided the cow’s paddock in half so they had fresh break of grass. Set it up in the next paddock, but boy that was work. Grass was as tall as my shoulders and thick underneath with red clover, birdsfoot trefoil, and lespedeza. Sweatin’ good. Took it easy in the afternoon and drank a lot of water.
Monday – very early departure for Overland Park, KS for Allen’s Aunt June’s brother’s memorial service. Visited with family and friend for the rest of the day. Exhausting and stressful day for June. Her brother was a just a few days shy of 97; June, too, is 96 with a birthday in early fall. She is the last of her family.
Tuesday – Morning chores, then RIck and I went to Chillicothe for appointments with Joyce for back, neck, shoulder treatments. Back home for a late lunch followed by gathering up the tools necessary to begin work setting for sorting off the feeder lambs. Couldn’t quite finish the job since we needed more tools. It’s amazing how many holes there are in a corral when thinking about small animals. They aren’t even an issue with cattle. Very hot, so we cut out early – about 3pm. Later in the evening, I went back up and took out mineral to cattle but found a 150 lb calf stuck in the muddy ditch. I roped it and pulled it out with the four wheeler. He seems like he’ll be okay, but he’s not getting up yet. Will check him tomorrow and take milk for him to eat if he hasn’t gotten up to nurse. Found a long dead lamb in the electric netting – won’t go into details, but got an idea of what it might be like to have worked the Katrina disaster. The smell burns the eyes and throat. Unfortunately, i did not have any rubber gloves with me, but mostly it had deteriorated enough that most fell through the fencing. Man, it was gross – the maggots had done their work well. Could hardly stand riding in the pickup home with myself even with the windows open!
Wednesday – up early again for a trip to Kansas City for a presentation as a female farmer to the Farm Service Agency Payment personnel. I enjoyed meeting everyone and was well received. But turned around and was home by 1pm. Quick trip – took just a hair over two hours each way. Now i have a few hours to clean house before taking out this evening to check on the down calf and muster the sheep into the corral just before dark (after it cools down). First thing in the morning, we’ll sort and load the feeder lambs for weaning and turn the rest back out. If it’s not raining. (Calf died 😦
Thursday – Dallas, RIck, and I met at 6:30 at the farm for sorting and loading the older lambs from about 150 ewes and 100 spring born lambs. We finished off the chore in short order despite the heat and humidity – we were thankful that it remained cloudy for the duration. We hauled the lambs to the Lamme farm and unloaded them into the already prepared paddock to contain freshly weaned lambs weighing 30-50 lbs. Then back to our house to gather up the 10 orphaned lambs. Incredibly, they just followed me straight into the trailer! We were speechless and and shaking our heads in wonder. That was just too easy. After preparing lunch, I headed back to my farm and rolled up seven sheep nettings and installed four of them back around the pond lot. The sheep will be turned in there tomorrow. I was so hot, I just couldn’t quite finish since i knew i still had a reel of polywire and posts to pick up to give the cows a fresh break, take out mineral, and just in general check on them. Water is so important right now, it’s important to check its availability often.
Friday – Excess heat advisory once again today – with heat index at 109 for most of the day. I checked my lambs first thing and rolled up the three 164 foot electric sheep nettings. Then moved the lambs to the paddock to the south. They are chomping through the forage quickly! This paddock had some questionable areas for their escape, so I set up one of the nettings alongside those areas. THe other two, I set up in the areas to which they will go in the next few days. I have eight calves that didn’t sell a couple of weeks ago because of lameness, eye problems, and one had been stung by bees! So, I’ve been shifting them to fresh breaks of grazing each day. They are scheduled to go to Milan Auction on monday. Then went to my farm up north after lunch and rolled up the two remaining nets that were through the timber. Takes longer because of brush, etc. Installed that last one needed around the pond lot, then electrified the whole thing and opened the pond lot gate. A couple ewes and their lambs ventured in but most stayed in the shade – they’ll find it this evening. Allen is finishing up bushhogging my fence rows. Really appreciate him doing that – it is a dangerous job. Helped Rick hook on to the hay baler which was in the barn – WHEW! Just in a few minutes, I think i sweated off a couple of lbs – too bad they won’t stay off!
No deep thoughts or wise words in this blog – it just truly is the telling of a finished project. The 5 barbed wire fence around an older pond has been loose as a goose for YEARS! I finally am pressured to fix it since I’m weaning calves at this new location in a couple of weeks. Seems like I have to have a major push to finish big projects.
Re-stretch 1050 feet around the pond, all wires needed re-stretching which meant ALL the clips had to come off and put back on after stretching. That is about 90 posts times 5 is 450 clips! Stretching the wire around each corner post with fence/wire pliers and pounding in the staples to make it hold. I’m not sure how many hours it took me because I had to break it into smaller jags – i just get tired you see. And a couple days ago, I pushed too hard and knocked out a rib. By the time I got home I was nearly in tears! (I have an appointment on Friday to get put back together)
Not only did Dallas man the Rhino GPD-30 Gas Powered Driver (most of the posts had heaved out of the ground over the years), but he also helped finish up today with helping to hang the gate where there had been a wire gap before. It’s just an old worn out gate, but it will be fine for this job for many years – at least the rest of my life.