Working in the jungle today.
August is full of those days when you’re thankful for a barbeque and some greens in the garden that you can nab at the last minute to throw together a hamburger. The day are getting so short and the fall list so long. Oh yes, and fresh milk to make hamburger buns with…baking with fresh milk is to die for.
Well, actually about a week.
He’s wearing his cone of silence, and we are trying to keep him quiet for about a week…not easy to do with an Aussie who takes his garden job quite seriously. Luckily with the temps climbing into the 90’s, he can just chill in his favorite spot under the bin table and watch us churn butter and blanch cauliflower.
The older boys are smirking on the porch.
“Most ranchers love their cattle, and hate their grass – it should be the opposite.” Bud Williams
No truer words were ever spoken. Been there, done that. We used to be scrambling for pasture in August. “What’s the matter with that grass?” “It won’t grow!” “The cows are eating me out of house and home, ’cause of that darn grass.”
It’s expected you know, to run out of grass in August in Western Oregon. Why? Because we enjoy our Mediterranean-like climate. Long, dry summers are wonderful, except for pasture. Whose got time to manage pasture, we’re busy. Gardening, farming (you know the real kind of farming not grass farming) vacationing, and any other summertime activities you can think of keep us from managing our grass for the expected summertime slump.
Reckoning month? August or even late July is the time to really assess your pasture and your stocking rate. Do you have any grass right now? Any stockpiled forage for fall to allow you to shepherd your fall green-up if it materializes? Basically, can I keep the stock I have right now on what is growing on my land? Do I have to feed hay? August is really a good month to jump in with both feet and buy some cows…if you have grass. Usually though we all operate with our hearts instead of our heads (see quote above) and buy cows when we want them, or in the spring when the tall grass is a bother. Or we keep cows when we can’t “afford” to keep them, putting the cows before the grass. Bud Williams had it so right. If you pay attention to your grass, and I mean really take care it, the cows will ultimately benefit. But the grass has to come first. He didn’t really mean to hate your cows, but I think you get his drift, Bud loved cattle. Stockmanship guru he was.
Everybody has a different bottom line to adhere to. Mine is keeping only the number of cows I can support here on this farm, without inputs except minerals, fuel and twine for hay making, and a little bit of grain for the house cow. Yours may be different. We vary our stocking rate to match the grass, by harvesting meat animals before the grass starts to wane. In my neck of the woods July is when you really see the faucet shut off and the grass growth slows considerably. I start pulling off meat animals in June, the grass is mature and sweet, unlike early spring or fall lush which is too washy and high protein and lends a gnarly taste to the meat. This year I’ve done another round of culling and got rid of some cattle that didn’t fit, and turned them into cash to help out the cows and calves that do fit. Why? It’s a dry year despite the newspaper saying Portland isn’t’ in a drought. When you receive the rain is as important as how much rain you receive. My rule of thumb is when it’s dry enough that I can work my garden soil early, I can expect the grass to be suffering. I did get out on the garden early, and the grass has suffered.
However, with a sound grazing plan in motion, I am seeing green ahead of the cows and behind, with grass greening up two days behind the cows. I’ve taken pictures of the August rotation each week, and I’m putting together a crude map or two to better explain my strategy, but the garden and two little calves are beckoning. More in a couple of days how I am loving my grass so I can properly love my cows.
live without my foodmill or crockpots.
Just putting a batch of roasted tomatoes through the mill, into the crockpot for heating and then on to the pressure canner. The dog days of August are so busy, its hard to describe, you spend hours a day cooking for meals you may eat in 6 months. Lunch usually is pint of milk, a cucumber, and handfuls of blueberries as you walk by to the next task on the list.
August truly is the golden month.