Tag Archives: FSRC

Shoulda Listened the first time

Ten years ago, my good friend, Jim Gerrish, (American Grazinglands, LLC) stopped by on his way from his daughter’s house back to his home in Idaho and we walked my farm, which he was already familiar with from his days at FSRC as lead grazing specialist, (and as our neighbour) and he worked up a paddock design and grazing plan. I did not follow it to the letter, but just recently, I have taken MiG (management-intensive grazing) to the next logical step in Total Grazing concept as taught by Jaime Elizondo, I am moving fences and retooling. Early this morning, i woke to the possibility that i was moving towards Jim’s original design and recommendation. I pulled out the professional consultation booklet and, sure enough, it is nearly precisely what i’m now moving towards. Now, the changes are not huge, but they are critical and a good workout.

Now, in my defense, there is a reason that i didn’t go entirely with his plan and that is because the EQIP program i signed up for which paid for all this fencing required solar water/temporary water tanks. Since i am not comfortable depending on solar/battery water pump when checking the cows only every 3 days, i could not, in my quality of life choice, rely on solar pump supply. My pump doesn’t have a check on it, indeed it will pump for 45 minutes per battery then completely drain that battery and the solar panel cannot recharge it once it is flat. That is a problem. Now i have significantly improved that situation because now two batteries are linked together. In other words, if the cattle drink a lot at night or when the skies are super dark for an extended period, the batteries will allow about 1 1/2 hours of continuous pumping and will be flat if there is no voltaic recharge during that time. However, having two batteries there has not been a charging failure.

Since I’ve discovered the new (to me) Total Grazing program in which the best balance is 4x moves per day nonselective grazing (for cattle satiation and soil/forage improvement), i will be at my farm nearly everyday or as often as possible so i can keep an eye on water supply from the solar pump. There are a lot of other things i can do whilst there, plus being away from home, maybe i can lose a few pounds by avoiding easy access to food. In fact, today i am actually looking at quality tents so i can spend more time camping and fishing in the two big ponds i stocked with good fish a few years back. (Any recommendations on waterproof tents?!)

Okay, back to the story – Jim figures with my soil types (but not having tested how poor and depleted they are), that 400-500 animals units could be sustained year round on my 520 acres. However, despite 3 day grazing periods and 40 day day rest periods, i found that the carrying capacity has appreciably declined each year even though a LOT of hay was being fed. Something had to change leading to selling off some 76 head of cows/calves last fall. There are but 75 animal units now and i still am feeding some hay even now, in large part, to protect the tiny green plants trying to grow – May 1 is our traditional ‘start of grazing season’ date in north Missouri. The decline in numbers is also due in large part of leasing out 120 acres to organic soybean cropping these past 4 years.

Jim also uses an 80% seasonal utilization on cool season pastures and 60% for warm season, but MiG as i was implementing it, couldn’t come close to that! Therein lies the change in movement, allocation, and observation of gut fill, manure consistency, and plant growth. BUT, and this is a big but, it will require me to be at the farm full time. Given the distance to drive there is the challenge to try and fit into a quality of life long term decision. But my life has far fewer demands on my time now that the children are educated, grown, and gone (except for Dallas – thank goodness he has stayed to help!)

Cheers!

tauna

Mild Monday

Another stunningly beautiful weather day here.  Just a touch of frost on the windshields and crunchy grass early this morning.

Woke up about 4am since i’d fallen asleep so early the evening before, but with a horrible headache. photo download 007 Took some Tylenol, fixed some mate, then opened the door to let Thunder in and along with him a bird flew in!  Weird.  So a little early morning excitement – Allen and i finally coaxed it out by turning off all the lights in the house and turning on the porch light.  Birds are not like bats, they have to see where they are going.

Almost out!
Almost out!

My main project for today was to load up those little calves i talked about earlier and the thin bull and take them to market.  Now we don’t have those baby calf feeding chores which frees up about 45 minutes a day! Not to mention just the inconvenience of being tied to this task twice a day. Most of that time is taken up with preparing the bottles and feeding the bottle calves.   There is also no more feed costs.

Next big project was to prepare another 16 foot cattle panel into a circle which is what we use in south Missouri for decorative and useful end posts for fence.  Once these are filled with rocks (and there are plenty of those on my farm there!) then they are set to go.  Beautiful and functional at once.  It is hard work to fill up them up, however.

photo download 001Dallas put the second coat of linseed oil/mineral spirits on his lawn tractor trailer yesterday and took out a couple bales of hay for my cows up north.  He also moved several more bales from the neighbour’s farm.  We bought the rest of his hay bales just recently and while it’s dry, we are moving them off his farm as quickly as possible.

This afternoon and early evening will be spent at the Forage Systems Research Center‘s 50th anniversary with guest speaker, Dr Fred Martz, professor emeritus and former FSRC superintendent.  It’ll be nice getting to visit with friends we haven’t seen for some time.

Cheers!

tauna