State of the Farm

Gratitude

It is hard to ignore the sense of relief in our farming community. We are getting rain, and we are even getting it in amounts that are above normal. Nobody cares that the weathermen are predicting another hard year once spring arrives - they may be wrong. But for now, we have closed the gaping fissures in the ground, are starting to refill the ponds and are storing water in the underground roots of our grasses and clovers, water that will provide the impetus for spring growth. If it dries up after that spring flush, so be it. We will be ahead of 2011 when we had no spring grass at all.  Whew! It is hard to deny a greater being if for no other reason than we need somebody to thank. We are grateful.

Oh, Those Teenagers

As most of you know, we employ grazing lanes for our beef cattle a la Voisin, the French agri-scientist who 200 years ago published the stunning results of his method which promotes healthier pastures by virtue of allowing the grasses to rest and recuperate by barring their grazing during a defined recovery period. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it. It often doubles your pasture capacity, and always improves your soil’s health.

We employ single strand solar charged fencing to separate our pastures into lanes. Our Momma cows respect the wires, kind and gentle ladies that they are, and so does O’Toole the Bull. I think he does it only because he wants to stay close to his girl friends, but O’Toole is another story. But the calves? Well, like their human counterparts, they tend to be less obedient and more adventurous. They start life short enough in stature to walk under the charged wire un-shocked, venturing off where their mothers will never go. Their mothers do not reprimand them so long as they stay within eyesight. Clay doesn’t mind because they don’t damage the fencing - they simply go under it.

The problem comes when they are separated from their mothers to the other side of the farm for their finishing stage and begin to grow larger and taller, never having gained respect for the hot wire. When they are again subjected to grazing lanes, they by now are willing to accept the jolt of electricity to gain what they perceive as greener grasses - and they never really give it up. Clay and I never stop repairing electric fence in the finishing pastures, and we’ve had enough of that.  This year’s capital expense will be permanent fence in the finishing pastures, using  hardware mesh that will also control sheep and goats in case we ever decide to add them to our menagerie. This fence will also be predator resistant and allow us to keep our hens from becoming a coyote’s dinner. Or at least slow that freeloader’s opportunities.

That’s life in agriculture, folks. You learn by experience, and experience teaches expensive lessons. But the farm will be a better place after the investment, so you just do it. No whiners or quitters need apply.

JVF