We made our final cutting of alfalfa on Sunday. My eldest son and I took a few pictures as dad was cutting the hay. It was neat to see the swallows swooping in and grabbing bugs behind the mower. There were also quite a few dragonflies out. Most of the dragonflies and swallows are already on their way out. Dad noticed the barn swallows started leaving about 10 days earlier than normal this year.
Watch for the swallows catching bugs in this video:
Nice! I think Jane would eat this alfalfa 🙂
Thanks! This fourth cutting hay should be very high-quality. The chicken manure on the alfalfa field is starting to show its worth.
I’m not up to speed on alfalfa, since it doesn’t do too well here. But east of the mountains, it is a huge crop and is irrigated. Do you have to irrigate to get four cuttings?
Another dumb question – how long does a planting last?
I suspect there are benefits to irrigation but we don’t. I would guess irrigation would give me an additional cutting but would require additional fertility inputs.
Our stand is Vernal alfalfa and is probably good for 3-4 years. It was sewn by the tenant the year we bought the land and is now 2 years old. As the years pass the weed seeds from the ditch will increasingly establish themselves in the stand. Though dad pointed out that weeds are most prevalent where the chickens have been so apparently I’m introducing weed seeds in my feed….which is fine. I would much rather buy in my hay than cut it, praying it doesn’t get rained on and sweat and sneeze my way to the barn with it all. Given my druthers I would rather just graze the whole farm. We’re just not there yet. Give me a few more years…mostly for the experience but also for biological development.
Interesting…old timers say non-irrigated, and subsequently deep rooted alfalfa is one of the best feeds for dairy cows. Sounds like your girls will be in seventh heaven. The heavily fertilized and irrigated stuff here is expensive and not too palatable at least to my cows. A lot of it gets made into pellets, or alfalfa meal so the quality is not as apparent to the end user as it is in bale form.
Oh, the cows love it. The goats nibble the leaves off and drop the stems for bedding though. We drop double handfulls of chaff in with the chicks each day too.
I don’t want to graze pure alfalfa for fear of bloat. That will change as the stand matures.
Here’s a older interesting thread from KFC showing a vet student’s cow.
I don’t even know what a bloat block is…
I’m not interested in fighting nature to maintain an alfalfa monoculture. I know the stand won’t stay pure for long. Once it’s about 40% legume I won’t have so much to worry about in terms of bloat. While I allow grasses and weeds to invade my alfalfa field I have to work to increase the clover stand in the rest of my pastures. Further, if my cows turn out to be high-maintenance Mercedes I’ll trade them in for low-maintenance Toyotas. So far so good, except for May’s attitude.
Great pictures! Wondering what kind of little tree is that behind your house? When we come to Dad’s in a few weeks, we’ll bring you some daylilies.
There are two elm trees behind the house. American Kestrels nest in the smaller of the two each year.
Daylillies would be great.
I read somewhere – Louis Bromfield – Malabar Farm? Maybe…anyway, I think he said alfalfa was a great crop for mining, the roots go so far down and bring up minerals that other crops will never reach.