Walkin’ Stalkin’ and Talkin’

That’s what Clay and I have been doing — walking the grazing lanes, stalking the grasses and talking about when and where it will be ready to graze. Longtime readers already know that managed grazing means not putting the cows on pasture too soon when the grass is still immature, less nutritious and more vulnerable to stunted growth if nipped too soon. Managed grazing is the sine qua non of Jolie Vue’s model. It is essential to the restoration and sustainability of the soils and grasses. Without it, nothing else works.

Why do we walk it? You’ve heard that the “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”? That has real application in the grazing world — what looks good from across the fence can be deceiving. You’ve got to get down on the grass to see if mature grass is or will be covering the pasture without significant holes in the growing process. Remember, there are 15 identified native grasses on JVF and they do not all thrive under the same conditions. So we walk it, looking down on the grass, asking ourselves “is it as full and thick viewed from above as from the side?”

The grazing plan has started in the south pasture lanes where we have been running irrigation since February. There was a plan to go from there to the lake pasture then to the east, finishing in the north pasture. But after walking all pastures, we predicted that the three lanes in the east pasture would not be ready in turn, so instead we’ll drop from the lake directly to the north, then to the east. We chose our altered course on the assumption that no rain would fall during the time that elapsed between grazing the south pasture and reaching the east pasture.

The trick is to predict how a grazing lane will look as much as forty days from the day we started in Lane 1. Many factors will influence the outcome - heat, wind, rain, cloudiness, and the proper timing of cattle on grass. As Clay noted, “if it was easy, everybody would be doing it.”