Karl has been involved with agronomy for the past 30 years and utilizes forages and cover crops in his own cattle operation. Karl grass finished cattle for Thousand Hills Cattle Co before establishing Prairie Creek Seed in 2009. Karl currently is developing a forage based registered herd. He has made a name for himself throughout the seed industry by speaking about forages and practical management in the U.S. and Canada at numerous educational presentations and conferences. In 2009, Karl co-founded Prairie Creek Seed to provide the best genetics and management advice to farmers. Karl is driven to support agriculture and farmers as they work to improve their profitability and land stewardship.
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.
With the first pass May 15, 16, and 17 behind me, several very light rain showers, and a few days of drying out, I was ready to get to that second tillage pass and get the annual seeds in the dirt!. Thursday, May 25, 2017, I spent 4 hours with the Howard Rotavator 600 and was pleasantly surprised that, for the most part, the John Deere 4250 tractor worked along nicely at A2 speed vs A1. This effectively increased my speed from 2.1 mph to 2.6 mph. And it showed up in the final tally for sure! The second pass on the same 18 acres, instead of taking 12 hours as before, only rang up 7 1/2 hours. Nice. Admittedly, i could never make a farmer (row cropper); how do those guys run those things for hours on end, daylight to dark, day after day. I was thankful, i could distract myself for a while, at least on the long rows, by chatting (private message) with my son, who was at a cafe in Spain, and texting about soil conditions with a friend who was farming another part of my farm with 120 acres for organic soybean production. I finished up with the second pass on the 26th. It was also seeded on the 26th.
When i was about 2/3 rds completed, Allen came with a huge bag of premixed annual seed to fill the hopper on the Einboch power seeder and harrow. He finished all 18 acres in about 4 hours, counting a couple stoppages due to hoses plugging.
So, time spent so far:
Mixing seeds – 1 hour
Tractor – first pass – 12 hours
Tractor – second pass – 7 1/2 hours
Tractor/Seeding – 4 hours
A couple of ways to figure the cost of establishment.
One is to figure my actual costs and assign an hourly rate for our time plus wear/tear/depreciation on the tractor and implements. And the other is to use custom rental rates which are figured by the acre.
Total man hours spent – 24.5 hours at $??/hr
Tractor costs for 23.5 hours at $??/hr
Fuel costs – 23.5 times 7.7 gph = 181 gallons @
Or using machinery rental rates (which is what i’m going to do since i don’t know the above costs!)
tractor and rotavator – 36 acres times $20/acre = $720.00
tractor and seeder/harrow – 18 acres times $15/acre = $270.00
Seed costs – $31.56 per acre is what i ordered – HOWEVER, i am informed that Allen actually put on about half again as much, so i will multiply that amount by 1.5 for a per acre cost of $47.34. The additional seed will hopefully pay off in increased forage yields. So total seed costs are $$852.12.
Buckwheat 6# @ $ .90/lb
Lespedeza 6# @ $1.00/lb
Pearl Millet 5# @ $1.05/lb
Oats 12# @ $ .28/lb
Cowpeas 6# @ $ .90/lb
Sunflower 5# @ $.45/lb
Red Clover 2# @ $1.95/lb
Total expenses then amount to $1842.12 or $102.34 per acre. That’s a lot and does not include the 2 tons of lime i had applied in April at a cost of $66/acre. It’s tough to say this all has to be recouped in one year or one grazing because the lime will be there for the rest of my life and the tillage will have long term effects in loosening the soil as well as eradicating the toxic endophyte infected fescue. With so many variables, counting the cost, or rather, measuring the increase or lack thereof, in the short run, is very difficult in ranch renovation.
The plan is to have something to graze in 60-75 days. This will depend large part on moisture. We are getting pretty dry now already and need a rain. I will post updates.
By the way, you noticed i’m not including costs associated with photography and blogging. It’s a good way to force me to sit down and keep a log of expenses, time, and results. Hopefully, it will help others as well!
Managing soil, water, and animals properly and privately goes a lot further than politically motivated government regulations written by people who are far removed from soil and weather.
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.
That forecasted rain hit about 9:30 pm and just poured for about 5 minutes – storm over. The Mizzou game in Columbia, MO, however, looked like miseryfor a LONG time – it didn’t help that the hometown team lost badly.
Today dawned clear and bright and i managed to clean the frig, wash a load of laundry, feed the calves, wash windows, and start the oven cleaning before the day got started.
Paperwork has been gathered for my trip to Chillicothe in the afternoon to the license bureau. Allen and I had planned to purchase the pickup through bartering, however, i found out at the license bureau that that can only be done throught a dealership! No private transactions. That doesn’t sound fair. So, of course, i had to pay sales tax after all. The inspection for the pickup resulted in a $600 repair bill!!
Stopped in Meadville at my friend’s house and we had a serious heart to heart visit. I cannot imagine going through life without a close friend with whom each can share our joys, concerns, and heartaches.
Slow late afternoon since i’d allowed plenty of time for the license bureau, yet i was in and out in less than half an hour! Fed the calves, worked on my chicken tractor (this is my 9th design and build of chicken tractors and eggmobiles). I’ve been at the chicken tractor for months, but it’s the lowest item on my priority list, so I seldom have time to piddle around with it. Had hoped to have it done before i butcher our last 14 hens so as to see if it works, but that may not happen. Might get chicks next spring, but might not. I may just enjoy not having extra chores, but it’s fun building stuff – it just won’t get used.
This morning, after chores, Dallas and I were to deliver clover seed to New Cambria Sale Barn. The buyer couldn’t meet us at the predetermined time, however, so we were to just leave it there and he would pick it up later. He had left the check with the lady who runs the sale barn cafe. About a 35 minute drive over, so didn’t take long and I had a nice ride with my son.
Took a bit of time to prune landscaping. Dallas has been pruning his grandpa’s cherry and apple trees.
Early this morning, I had started making 6 lbs of sloppy joes and a batch of deviled eggs for the firemen’s meeting tonight. However, Allen received a text that said Alex would bring lasagna. Hooray! Nevertheless, I finished the batch and we’ll enjoy sloppy joes for a while, then I’ll freeze the rest for later. The deviled eggs are quickly disappearing already.
After a stop at Orscheln’s to purchase more lamb milk replacer (will be glad when they are weaned onto creep feed!), we arrived
home in time to warm up lunch, then I headed up to the farm. Odds and ends maintenance and repair on fence, water, taking out mineral to both cattle and sheep. Also, made some plans to modify the corral in the shearing shed and gathered a few materials for that as well as doing some measuring. Got home about 8pm.