Well. It happened. November.
Shoot. Now what?
Oh, how I yearn for those warm summer days. Not the hot summer days. Not the dry summer days. The warm ones…topping out around 85 degrees. Those are nice but they are gone. Gone. They won’t return for another six months.
Warm season grasses are gone. The clover has been killed back by frost. The soil is frozen an inch deep making it hard to move fence posts. Cool season grasses are still growing a little on warm days but the pasture won’t be ALIVE again for until May.
What am I going to do?
Well, here’s the plan. We want to continue grazing cattle for the duration. We want to keep the ground covered for the duration. That’s about it.
So here we are on November 20th. What is left to graze? Take a look at the map. I have shaded in areas that have been grazed since Oct. 1. Red shaded areas are where I grazed the alfalfa field down to the nubbins. The blue area was grazed lightly and may be grazed again. Everything else averages 18″ tall. The yellow border wraps the farm.
It looks like so much more area when you are on ground level. The cows are currently growing that red block at the south west corner and will finish up all of the alfalfa west of the pond by the first of December. If not sooner. I am also supplementing them with a round bale. I just unwrap and carry a layer each morning and give them a new strip of alfalfa to graze. Then we give a second strip of alfalfa around noon. Seems to do the trick.
Strip grazing the alfalfa field is a little tricky. First I have to be concerned with my cattle for a number of reasons. Alfalfa can cause bloat…even if I am careful, there is very little shelter out there from weather so I have to be attentive to their needs and they are a long way from the water spigot making it hard on the farmers caring for the animals. There is nothing quite like a basement full of frozen hoses! Beyond the cattle I have to be concerned about the alfalfa stand itself. I don’t particularly want a pure alfalfa stand (cause it causes bloat) but I also don’t want to kill it with hooves on mud. I do want to remove the stems to limit next year’s alfalfa weevil population and I do want to add manure. And I need to utilize the foot or so of alfalfa that grew back since the last hay cutting. This forage would otherwise be wasted. Grazing it now saves more durable forages for later. So here we are. And right by the hard road too…where people can watch me screw up my alfalfa field.
Anywho. I have to race across the alfalfa because it just isn’t built to last. Snow will push it down to the dirt, knocking off the leaves and leaving behind the stems or the freeze thaw will …knock off the leaves and leave just the stems. The cows aren’t big fans of stems. But I’m a big fan of the cows spreading manure across my alfalfa field. It doesn’t make up for the four cuttings of hay we remove but it’s that much less manure I have to scrape up from somewhere else. So we’re trying to rock right on through the 17 acres of alfalfa before January 1.
SO. How much grass does November need? No more grass. But the alfalfa west of the pond and the rest of a round bale should do it. I hope.
Now, November. Tell me how much firewood you need.