Spring Greening

We are still sick. All of us. My 14-year old 6’2″ eating machine seems to be faring the best of all of us…but I think he’s just late to the party. Whatever this cough thing is, it got the better of me. I rarely get sick. I don’t remember ever taking two sick days in a row before. Yesterday I went with Julie and the boy to help move the cows. I couldn’t keep up with them. They were walking too fast. Ultimately, I just lay down in the warm sunshine on a south-facing slope, feeling the tender, fresh, green grass around me. Still too cool for bugs but the sunshine was warm on my face. It was pretty comfy.

GoingToWork

Unrelated to the topic, there is about a ten degree difference year-round between the top of the hill and the little valley the boy is about to walk through. It’s pretty amazing. We try to walk up the valley on warm summer evenings because the rush of cool air flowing past us is great.

The chickens and cows are North of the hog building. We have the old flock of layers out there and running unfenced. I have mixed feelings about this but, really, I think the hens are doing very well and seem to be laying their eggs in the nest boxes.

FreeChickens

The cows grazed the area pictured above a little more than a week ago. We are just about ready to mash the accelerator pedal on our pasture. I had trouble getting my cattle to shed out their winter coats last spring. Mark Bader responded to an email and suggested the cows were low on energy and that I should speed up the rotation in the early spring. OK. We’ll give it a try. In a few days I’ll split the farm up into a 10-day rotation giving the cows 3-4 acres each day. They can be as selective as they want. But for now we are still bunching them up into half-acre daily moves so they knock down weed skeletons and remove surplus grass. We are moving slowly trying to allow the grass to grow three or four leaves. Most of the farm has three leaves right now. The moisture in the soil and highs near 80 degrees are rapidly accelerating growth.

OldHickory

The picture above shows today’s grazing area. The shagbark hickory tree decided to give up the ghost last night. Fortunately it didn’t land on a cow. You can also see the saplings that have come up recently in that pasture. I need to get busy.

As warm as it has been, we are not out of the woods yet. We can still get a snow or two. Or a heavy frost. In 2001 or 2002 (I’ll have to check my bee diary) we had a 4″ snow on April 20. In 2011 or 12 we had a hard frost on May 10…and the alfalfa took a lot of damage. So did our tomato plants.

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6 thoughts on “Spring Greening

  1. Yup, not a nice cough at all this one. It has really knocked people down – several people around me, including hubby, have had it. It takes a while to bounce back, don’t give yourself a relapse.

    Three leaf grass? I have no idea what I have in that regard – I thought this referred to taller stems, like when it’s turning into hay, but your pasture looks much shorter than that, so it must mean something different. Google was not helpful, showing me lots of pictures of clover…

    • Yeah. There is more green out there than you realize. There is tall, brown, leftover stockpile we didn’t get to. The cows are doing a great job of cleaning up the mess but we are still grazing with fairly high density…in relation to the available forage. The key indicator is the back end of the cow. They are clean. Too much protein and the cows will get messy.

      We haven’t mashed the pedal yet but we are just about to. Here is a video where Greg Judy talks about early spring rapid grazing…just trying to touch it all once before it goes to seed. Be sure to watch part 2. I’m looking for another video of his though…

  2. Interesting link btwn prolactin levels and infected fescue in this article. States that “When cows are not shedding, it indicates that prolactin levels are low.” … “Hair coat shedding has also been shown to be affected by diet. Toxic wild-type endophyte-infected tall fescue affects prolactin concentrations and hair coat shedding.” Page 4 of this Livestock Science article

    http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&ved=0CDYQFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Famericanherbataurus.com%2Fahs%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Farticles%2FHair%2520coat%2520shedding.pdf&ei=CjwcVdOjIY_SoATInYHwDw&usg=AFQjCNG-s_XuRJNlWRfAS0wLWHJc1CY3UQ&sig2=DSAO1aPfkFQVKfgyfLKVLA&bvm=bv.89744112,d.cGU

    • That is interesting. They reference a study from 1993 for the fescue information. I wonder what time of year they measured the cattle. Fescue isn’t always fescue. It’s awesome stuff to have in the winter. When do endophyte levels rise? My understanding was primarily in the heat of summer. That puts us back to the main point of the study: there is economic advantage in being selective about cattle genetics.

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