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!
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!
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.