Report from the rain gauge: May rain totals set a 25 year record according to the book we have kept since 1989. And not by just a little bit. We hit 16.4 inches, which blew away the previous record of 9 inches and ravaged the average of 3.2 inches. The May rains have built a surplus of rain for the year to date. If June continues only on a normal path, we should be in good shape for the summer. We usually mark July 4th as the last heavy rain date and if the grasses are in decent shape by the 4th, we can get through August and into the fall with some cooling grasses protecting the soil and its micro-life.
Repair mode: While we glory in the new-found moisture, enjoying every thunderstorm that rolls in, we are also realistic about what has gone before. Three years of drought and super-charged heat has taken its toll on the pastures, ponds, and woods. Bare patches in the pastures, cracks in the ponds and fallen trees in the woods are the scars that survive as we give thanks for the moisture. The moisture is curative for sure, but we have to be careful not to rush things. There is a lot of newborn grass out there trying to get established and nipping it in its infancy will only deter it. So we have isolated the mother herd in the South pasture which borders the old Road House, supplementing them with hay when necessary. That will leave the East, the Lake, the Pig and the Boundary pastures free to get some recovery time. But the South is sacrificed while it awaits its turn for rest.
The rest period for the aforementioned pastures will last a minimum of 4 weeks. If the pastures look better at that time, we will flash-graze them, meaning we will rotate the herd through the rested pastures in short bursts, a week at a time, so that nothing can be grazed hard and will rest the South Pasture for the rest of the year. This rotation will last until sometime between August 15 through September 15, when the herd will be temporarily moved to the leased pasture at the Mayfair Ranch for 6-8 weeks. That “herd vacation” will avoid grazing during the hardest part of the summer when the grasses struggle even in a normal year. It is also when the grasses seed out, so we will build an inventory of new seed for Spring of 2015. Make sense? We place our bets and hope for a winner. While it’s not rocket science, it is grass science.