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On the Move!







Colonel's Blog, Earthdate 10 April 2023...

Hey Y'all!


GOOD MORNING and happy Monday from Free Missouri!! I sincerely hope everyone had a wonderful weekend filled with love and happiness! The weather is absolutely gorgeous here today. It was a cool 45 degrees with the sun shining during morning rounds. The temps will reach mid-70s by early afternoon. The animals are doing very well, with the exception of the sick lamb. We never figured out what, exactly, was wrong with it and it died yesterday evening. It appeared that it had turned the corner and was getting better but then it just died. Sheep are hard. When we were putting out hay yesterday afternoon, one of the ewes decided she was going to have some of the green grass on the other side of the fence. When Shelley dropped the wires for me to drive through, she made a run for it and escaped. As we drove up she had a look in her eyes, we knew something was up. It took us about 5 minutes but we were able to get her back in the paddock with the rest of the ewes. I was so angry at her because she was like a hippopotamus at a lettuce buffet devouring the new grass we are being so careful to let grow. We are making the plans to get the sheep on the move so they can enjoy the green grass, but only the grass we are ready for them to eat. The newly hatched layer chicks are doing well, 16 in the brooder and 1 in the incubator with a few more that look like they may hatch today. We leave the newly hatched chicks in the incubator for a day or so to let them rest and get completely dry. The top pic is Shelley this morning right before Betty stepped on the milking hoses, pulling them off of her udder. It would seem that she was finished being milked before we were ready. Her teats stay sore from the calves nursing so we are understanding when she gets finished. Yesterday we slowed the pace, still got a lot done, but just a more relaxed feeling. We made a coupe of batches of yogurt and got the milk cows paddock ready and let them out to graze. Today we moved the main layer flock off of the garden onto fresh grass. We will finish editing a video and maybe, hopefully, go for a ride on the Harleys!


The grass is finally getting to the stage that we can get everybody out onto grass and on the move. Regenerative grazing is an intensively managed style of pasture management. During this part of the year, we are much more grass farmers than cattle or sheep farmers. We walk the pastures, measure the length of the grass blades, and make decisions for what is best for the grass. We may skip an area or impact it heavily. We may give the ruminants a large paddock, allowing them to slowly graze at their leisure or ‘mob-them-up’ into a small paddock which drives them to eat everything quickly. It’s all an attempt to keep the grass at its optimum growing length. Baby grass, less than 4-6”, grows slowly using mainly energy stores from its roots. Teenage grass, 6-12”, grows very quickly using mainly solar energy to grow while replenishing the energy stores in its roots. Elderly grass, over 12”, slows down its growth rate and starts to go dormant. The sweet spot is the teenage grass and perfection would be to keep every pasture in just that area. As the ruminants move into a new pasture, they walk around taking one rip of grass and stuff it in their bellies. That first rip takes the grass from the 6-12” to 5-6”. Once that first rip of grass is gone, the grass is stimulated to grow and has an energy boost from its roots but it still has enough length to absorb solar energy and it regrows quickly. If we allow the ruminants to take a second rip, it takes the grass back to the baby stage and slows its growth. So we attempt to move the animals at a rate to maximize growth. Initially, we were very hard on ourselves when we waited a bit too long, or moved them too early. We would strive for perfection, a futile attempt to control nature. Last summer, it just quit raining. We had to move the animals back through pastures that hadn’t recovered. Then it rained for a couple of weeks and immediately went back into a drought. We were disappointed that grazing didn’t happen exactly as we planned but learned a valuable lesson about trying to control nature. The pics above are a few of the first animals to get onto fresh grass. The 2nd and 3rd pics are the beef chicks on pasture. The 4th pic is our Easter dinner, three of our beef chickens that we processed last summer, each weighing 5 pounds, cooked to perfection on the gas grill. The next two pics are the layer chicks on fresh grass in their new coop. They love it and spend the day busily exploring and scratching. The last chicken pic is the main layer flock on their fresh grass this morning. Finally, the bottom pic is the dairy cows and calves on pasture yesterday evening. The calves learned the electric poly-wire is a boundary and we had no issues when we let them out. They were very cute, running back and forth enjoying their new-found freedom. Nevertheless, they gave the wire the utmost respect and never challenged it, changing direction and running the other direction whenever they encountered it. Overall, we are very excited to get everyone on the move!


Local Farm Report for 7, 8, & 9 April:

Harvest:

95 Chicken eggs

51 Duck eggs

3 Goose eggs

3 Guinea eggs

15 Gallons of milk

Farm loss:

1 ewe lamb

Farm gain:

17 layer chicks


Cheers!

Psycho & Shelley

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