Thursday, January 29, 2015

Intensively Managed

We have been trying a method of rotational grazing for the cows called "intensively managed grazing." The advantage of this method is that cows are forced to graze down the entire section of grass rather than roaming freely over a larger space. The cows mow and fertilize the area more evenly.

So, for instance, if you had 2 cows grazing over 12 acres (suggested ratio according to the Ag Extension for our area), the cows would roam around and pick and choose only the best bits of grass to eat. They would gradually over graze the good bits and ignore the rest. The cows would need to move to the next 12 acres about every month, assuming they are not being fed additional hay or grains.

With the intensive method, the 12 acres is divided up into a grid of smaller sections, about 1/4 acre each. The permanent perimeter fencing is used as the outside border and then temporary stakes and a single strand of hot wire is used internally. The cows are moved every day to a new section of grass. Also with this method you can easily have four times as many cows on the same overall acreage. In our case, we have had 11 cows grazing over 48 sections of a 12 acre pasture over the course of 48 days.

Another way to compare is by pounds (total weight of the cows) per acre. For unimproved pasture the ratio is about 40,000 lbs. per acre. After a few years of intensively managed grazing, the ratio is improved up to 250,000 lbs. per acre. 

In the grass growing season when you've had plenty of rain, the cows can then be returned to the beginning square of pasture and start all over again.

The cows would over graze this section of nice green grass if they had their choice.

The hot wire is wound onto a spool.

Here is the “intellirope” hot wire with red “rope link” connectors to each section.

The spools of hot wire are held on fencing poles.

Before grazing (on right) and after grazing (on left).

A mobile stock tank is moved every day, connected by a water hose to the water line laid last spring.

This is a 1/4 acre section of grazing.

The cows eagerly move from the old section to the new section.

The contrast between grazing (in the foreground) and ungrazed sections.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

White Cat

We had another stray cat come up to the back door the other day. This one was solid white. I gave it some milk and dog food, which was about all I had. I was hoping it might stay and take care of a few mice around the house, but it wandered off and I see and hear it roaming the property.

Friday, January 23, 2015

.22 Long Rifle

My big present this year for Christmas was a .22 rifle. I've been wanting something that I can handle without much kick. I had seen one in a sale leaflet before Christmas and suggested to Guv'nor that this would make a good present for me. The silly reason I liked that particular rifle was because it was pink camo. The ammo for a .22 is also very common and affordable. The bullets are small but will be able to handle small to medium sized animals.

I keep it by the back door, handy for the chicken predators. I've already been able to use it to scare off a large coyote.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Belted Galloways

One of the teachers up at the high school raises Belted Galloway cows. Last fall at a school function we discussed the possibility of buying a few cows from him.

Belted Galloways are an unusual looking breed where the front and back ends are either solid black or red, with a middle "belt" of white. Some owners call them "Belties" while those who admire them from afar will often call them "Oreos". Belted Galloways have a rich history dating back to 16th century in the Galloway district of Scotland, and could have originated as a cross of Black Galloway with Dutch Belted. Other characteristics of this breed are thicker hair, shorter legs, slower growth, and smaller weight. They also produce superior beef when grass fed. On rare occasions, a Beltie will be born without the belt marking and these are commonly called "throwbacks".

So a few weeks before Christmas we went to visit his farm and chose out a couple of nice heifers. We chose #45 and #46. One is about 15 months old and the other is about 10 months old. We agreed on a price per pound and they arranged to have them weighed at the local sale barn.

The two Belties were delivered the other day, along with registered papers naming the two heifers Beth and Abby. For those of you who know us, you'll know why this is funny. Beth was delivered already bred. So hopefully we'll have a little Beltie calf sometime late summer. There was a humorous discussion about why Abby was too young to be bred, but when she's ready, they will help with her breeding.

Monday, January 19, 2015

New Tank

Our friend Fireman has started a new side business using his bulldozer, so we hired him to dig us a new tank on our property. We chose a natural low spot where surface water was already draining and there were a couple of dead trees.

In addition to his bulldozer, he had another huge piece of excavating equipment with a huge claw on it that does the initial clearing.

The landscape was transformed in only a few days. At its deepest, the tank is about 15 feet deep. After a few days of rain, the tank is almost full.

Before the tank work began

You can see the gentle slope by comparing the tree line.

The deep trench walled in the valley to create the tank.

The trench was widened and formed into a more oval shape.

Sometimes he worked late into the evening.

The tank began to fill up quickly after a few inches of rain.

The tank is almost full.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Two More Calves

We have two more baby calves. One was born before Christmas to #2 Elsie and the other one was born to #6 Bessie after the New Year.

We think both are females but it's a little hard to tell because we can't get very close to them. The mothers are quite protective. It almost seems like from time to time one mother is appointed to the be babysitter/protector for all three.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


We decided to have a bonfire on New Year's Eve. Guv'nor decided to burn one of the wood piles and used the tractor to push it into a neat pile.

We had thought we'd pull the trailer with one of the four wheelers and carry a few chairs down to the area. But when the time came, the four wheeler wouldn't start. Then the battery on the Mule died. So we all just walked down there.

We use diesel as the propellant which works pretty good at getting the fire started. It was only after the fire was blazing high that we realized it was a bit too close to the edge of the woods.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Jury Duty 2

Last month I was called again for jury duty. It was before Christmas and I was a little concerned that if I got chosen it might interfere with preparations.

The county courthouse is under renovations, so some of the offices have been moved temporarily while the work is being done. The day I was called, court was being held in a former indoor shopping mall, now mostly offices.

I arrived promptly and stood with about a hundred other potential jurors in what would have been the "mall" area. Our names were gradually called and we proceeded to enter the double doors into what looked like a former department store divided into smaller rooms. I was given the number 56 card and became potential Juror #56 for the morning.

The presiding judge for this case had a sense of humor, thankfully, which made the day a little more pleasant. He introduced the prosecutor and defendants, went through the basic schedule for the day and asked those who needed to be excused to come forward. About a dozen people were excused for various reasons ranging from age, disabilities, commitments, job conflicts and familiarity with the case.

The two sides were allowed one hour each to talk to the potential jurors about generalities of the case. Our case was about an accused aggravated assault, and they wanted to make sure everyone understood the definitions of the law. They were mostly interested in hearing answers from the first twenty jurors, and made a note of their numbers.

After returning from the lunch break, we were called back inside and the selection of jurors were announced. All the jurors came from the first 15 jurors, so I was excused.

I took my $6 in cash.

Oh, well, maybe next time I'll get chosen.