The main herd has been enjoying the extra room for grazing because of the harvested far, far field. We opened up the temporary electric fence so they can wander around the full field, the perimeter, under large leaf maple trees and tall fir. They can meander the upper field and down in the dip by the riparian. They can also watch us as we try to make the next field into hay by watching across the river.
This open field that they have been in since we finished the far, far field has been good for the herd, but the time they can stay over there is running out and they are thinking it is about time to return to the barn side of the river and all the clover that is growing. They would also love to clean up the hay field but we have still not had enough heat during the days to dry the hay enough to bale. Mike has fluffed this field four times now and he is still rolling up green grass because the ground has stayed moist.
We are hoping tomorrow to be able to get the field raked into windrows but we will have to see how that goes. For now, the main herd will have to be content with the grazing area they have and we are supplementing a couple of bales of hay a day just to keep them happy while we work on the next area for grazing.
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The main herd is currently divided into two groups. The mothers with calves are in the nursery field and the remainder of the cows with the herd sire are on the outer reaches of the fields. The main herd can chose to lounge under tall trees in the woods, they can trek the logging roads for grassy areas to forage, or make the walk back along the base of the hill to the back of the fields where the spring is located or sometimes they cross the river to hang out across the road from the bull pen or the show cow pastures.
Normally the groups stay fairly well concentrated in their groups and it was unusual to have the herd split one day when it was feeding time. Instead of all the main herd being by the feeders waiting for the evening meal, we only saw the herd sire patiently waiting for the hay to be hauled around the corner of the barn. The sire, Prowler, is a social sort and doesn’t hang around by himself, he is content to follow the ladies around and sometimes takes the lead when it is mealtime, but being alone at the feeders is not seen regularly even though it was mealtime.
By the time we got out to the feeders with the hay, more of the herd began to trickle in from where they had been grazing on the other side of the river. But it was only about half the herd. Mike used his ‘come boss’ holler to bring the rest of the cows to dinner but none showed up. Knowing critters as Mike does, he assured me that the rest of the herd had most likely headed up hill to find fresh grassy areas to graze and were probably out of hearing range for his hollering and said that he would expect the missing critters to be down off the hill in the morning for breakfast.
Morning time came and the feeding schedule commenced. When we began feeding the nursery field critters first, we saw a line of cows coming down off the steep slope over by the logging patch we had cleared last year. After missing an evening meal they were ready to head to breakfast when they heard the Gator were quick to get to the mangers before we unloaded their share of hay. Once missed mealtime was enough to remind them of the feeding schedule.
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I was coming down an old skid road on my way out of the woods and say some of the main herd grazing along contentedly. This field was one of the hay fields that we had harvested in June.
This time of year, the main herd has access to the large fields for grazing.
The grass did not grow during the very hot summer but now that the moisture season has arrived there is quite a bit of foraging to be done. The herd will be able to nibble grass until the weather turns colder and the freezing weather stops growth.
We are feeding hay twice a day along with the open grazing to make sure they have enough to eat. The mother cows are already pregnant and we want the babies they are carrying to have a steady intake of nutrients.
This winter has trifled with my organizational skills. Actually, A LOT of things trifle with my organizational skills, but for today, this winter is on my list.
This post was supposed to start by saying that the last of the snow has finally melted from the gigantic piles that were formed where the massive amounts slid off the metal roofs (?? would that be rooves?) of the barns. See what I mean? This winter is even unsettling for my words.
Anyway, back to may rant…
At daybreak, a new skiff of snow greeted the animals in the bull pen, with the chance of 2-4 more inches during the day. It was barely 24 hours since we had finally melted the last of the snow here at the river level of the farm. I was reluctant to climb the hill to check out if we still have snow at the top of the ridge, but I would have assumed that it would of either been gone or close to it by now.
It will be detrimental to move the main herd of cows to the far pasture today as planned since they cannot graze when the snow covers the grass. The move will have to wait at least a day or two.
One of the elk herds has descended on the far hay field/pasture with a vengeance. It was hard to count as they kept moving, swirling around in a slow-dance version of circling the drain as they pick through blades of grass that are now exposed after the snow finally melted. The total neared 50 as far as I could tell with at least 3 bulls in the bunch.
This far field was supposed to be the grazing area for the main herd in a couple of days. We take fields out of rotation for feed after we spread manure out on the grass. The elk have determined that the field has broken down the manure and the grass is ready for eating, they beat us moving the cows to this pasture.
I can’t blame the elk herd, they are probably hungry from this unusual winter, and this grass that we had so generously fertilized for them 2 months ago is just the best tasting area they could find.
We are still planning on moving our main herd of cows over to this far pasture, but in the light of the current grass-stealing events, we will have to move the cows back out of this pasture sooner than planned and augment their feed with hay.
Our large herd of elk are back. They happened to find a small area in the middle of a large field where the snow had evaporated from the couple of weeks of dry, cold weather.
This herd which averaged 40-43 animals has grown over the last year. Even though it was hard to count as they moved around the field, it looks like the number has grown closer to 50 in this batch.
Another herd about this size was reported about 20 miles away. That area has a lot more humans living there and the elk are making nuisances of themselves by browsing on ornamental hedges, dormant rose bushes and expensive Japanese Maple trees.
Here at the farm, they keep nibbling on my cedar seedlings that I am trying to get established in the wetter areas around the river.
We have been keeping a closer eye on the herd these days after a neighbor from across the ridge stopped by. They were missing a couple of their Scottish Highland heifers after a cougar had run them through their pasture fences. Over the years the mountain lions have been seen around the farm. Earlier this spring, a friend that had been driving past the farm, saw a big cat walk down the driveway, cross in front of his car, leap over the fence and head toward the river. Continue reading
One of the two elk herds that travel through our farm are back for a visit. This is the smaller of the two herds with about 16 animals. The other herd is near 40 animals the last time I saw them.
Both herds have increased over the last year even though there was a lot of hunting activity last fall and winter.
It is such a joy to watch these magnificent animals while on the other hand knowing that they are eating the grass that is intended for our cows. Mike has been on high alert trying to keep the elk from camping out too long on Schmidlin acreage. In the evenings he heads out on little forays to whistle and holler whichever herd is on the farm, in an attempt to dissuade the critters and their plan of eating all green foliage.
I could actually dine in the garden with the good china, the polished silver and the sparkling crystal. I could even dress up and make it an affair to remember.
I could, but I don’t. It is much more likely to see me in the early morning, foraging for breakfast. Continue reading
There are many names for the clumps of hard, grass-like bunches of Tussock Grass and many different classifications for the plants. Some are native while some are introduced to the area.
Landscapers sell many types of Tussock for ornamental gardens. The plants can find their way to pasturelands. The clumps of stiff stems can take over areas that are needed for grazing. It gets tough to even walk through a patch of tussock as the uneven clumps grow wild. The stems produce seeds that hang in little clusters on the stems. Left to grow without control, a few clumps of tussock can take over large areas of natural feed for the herd.
In some of the wetter areas of the farm, especially flat areas near the river, Tussock Grass grows in patches. Since we do not use chemicals to control unwanted vegetation, and the cows will not graze on the Tussock, we use a rotary mower behind a little tractor to control the tough grass.
Once the grass is mowed the cows will minimally graze on the tender stalks as they regrow. This helps keep the plants from producing the seed clusters which inhibit the growth and spread of the plants.