With ragweed pollen turning everything yellow and making my life physically miserable, i was not looking forward to driving to my farm and setting up 600 feet of polybraid electric fence and start to move my cows to another paddock.
Today it dawned on me that i could just use the receiver hitch on my pickup to pull the polybraid across the field with my special attachment. Boy, i was sure feeling better – faster to drive up there and i could just sit in my air conditioning – my John Deere Gator has excellent a/c, but not as good as my pickup – when needed to recover. Open the gate, then leave. BUT, the more i thought about this decision, the more i thought that really i don’t need to put up any fence; just open the gate and let the cows into an entire paddock. Sure, this decision will result in losing some utilization of grass – more might be wasted, some will be overgrazed and set back from regrowth, but balanced against my quality of life and that later this fall i could just sell a couple extra cows or feed a couple extra hay bales, the more wasteful option is the better option.
And that is the beauty of management-intensive grazing. Flexibility can include intense mob grazing or open it up to take a holiday or break for illness (allergies in my case). Then when the issue passes, go back to a more managed approach to optimize the balance of grazing, soil, water, health.
POSTSCRIPT – Guess i forgot to post this one earlier in the fall. Ragweed season started later this year, but also hung on well into September. Couldn’t leave the country this year because of chinese virus, so coped best i could. Thankfully, the pollen didn’t affect me as badly this year – or i’m learning to manage better. Whichever the case, it is in the past now until August 2021!
Finally giving up on my old jeans and stretched out Empire State Building hoodie as work clothes. Actually going straight into the rubbish. The hoodie was pricey since it was a souvenir, but the jeans, like most of my clothes, were purchased for a $1 a year ago from a local second hand shop.
They needed throwing out long ago, but i always justify keeping them a bit longer because they are great for fence repair. That is to say, fence repair will destroy them even more, so why start with something new, right?
Oftentimes, i’m frugal to a fault, but a hoarder i am not – if i have no use for an item and it has possible value to someone else, i’m selling it or giving it away at earliest chance.
Nevertheless, the hole in the butt portion of the pants that i keep covered by pulling down my stretched out hoodie is just getting too large for comfort. With a windchill of 4F and a foot of snow outside, it will be a long time before any fence repair will take place.
Reminder of upcoming farm walk at Nicholas and Melody Schanzmeyer farm near Winigan, MO on 28 April 2018.
31598 HWY 129 Milan, MO 63556 Saturday at 12 PM – 4 PM
3 days from now · 45–66° Sunny
Let’s eat around noon in the barn loft, like last time, and then take a look around afterward. We’ll plan on the same set-up; bring a dish to share if you’d like, and we’ll provide the meat and drinks and such.
Chairs are not necessary.
My what difference a year makes. Here’s some information on the walk. We will be looking at the 50 acres we were able to put water on and get fenced in. It’s a high tensile electric perimeter with a single subdivision along with buried water lines with spaced risers. We have 100 bred ewe lambs, 2 LGD Peaches and Darrell, and a horse named Annie. We’re 1.8 miles North of the Winigan Station just past the blue water tower with the large white barn with a green roof.
Nicholas & Melody Schanzmeyer
31598 HWY 129
Milan, MO 63556
Other farmwalks to mark on your calendar for 2018
May – Greg and Jan Judy, Clark, MO – 660.998.4052
June – Allen & Tauna Powell, Laclede, MO – 660.412.2001
July – Daniel Borntreger, Bethany, MO – 660.425.8629
August – Harry Cope, Truxton, MO – 636.262.0135
September 22 – Andy Welch, Sheridan, MO, 660.541.3675
October – Tom & Laurie Salter, Unionville, MO
November – Dennis & Becky McDonald, Galt, MO 660.358.4751
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.
Additional thoughts and observations:
Grazing days – 4 days on 18 acres with 146 cows, 110 calves, and 6 bulls
Labor – setting up and taking down polybraid – two strips – 3 hours.
There is general concern that the annuals need to be stripped off for best utilisation because of the assumption that the cows will destroy too much of the forages. However, my experience is that there was very little waste overall and certainly not enough to justify 3 hours of labor in stripping off small sections. Having said that, i have to quantify that one strip allowed access to only 4 1/2 acres, then 5 acres, then about 8 1/2 acres. Perhaps larger sections would have shown more waste.
If conditions allowed less work setting up and taking down and one had more valuable annuals, then it may be better to take advantage of the benefits of strip grazing.
Post grazing observations:
where the soil was tilled and planted with annuals, the Kansas ragweed did not grow, but giant ragweed was there, though, far from as thick as an untilled/unplanted paddock.
Trampling of annuals was negligible – nearly all had been eaten with the exception of a few sunflower plants.
The pneumatic harrow needs a work over since there were a lot of skips in seed application. Thankfully, the yellow foxtail proliferated thickly in the tilled soil to keep the soil covered. Actually better than the annuals and the cows loved it.
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!