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Postcard From the Fields

April 16, 2013

Moving into the second week of grazing, and trying to get used to the new schedule.  It was pretty convenient to have the cows close at hand eating hay.  Building fence uses a different set of muscles than toting bales.  Namely the muscle between my ears!  Part of the transition of spring grazing this year was integrating Blake into the herd.  It’s not always a seamless operation adding the milk cow’s calf.  Herd dynamics are interesting to say the least.  Blake’s first day of “school” was day one for the cows to be out of the feeding shed.  Putting everyone in a new place at the same time works wonders with all farm animals.  Everyone is a little unsettled and not into territories yet.

blue sky, green grass

blue sky, green grass, napping cows

Blake made some new friends and new enemies, but that is the nature of the beast.  She’s a great bellcow because she is very attentive to our every move.  This helps the herd get moving a little faster at paddock shift.  Half want to follow her and half want to chase her, either works for me as long at they come into the next paddock.

Now grazing chores consist of checking fence lines for winter damage, making repairs, and not getting too far ahead of the cows with temporary fencing.  The deer and elk are quite active now, and for some reason hard on fences this time of year.

kale explosion

kale explosion

We are gardening by degrees, restricting our gardening activities to the greenhouse.  New plantings this past week were cabbage, more onions, and bare root strawberries in the greenhouse.  As the new garden is getting seated in we are eating some form of overwintered kale and chard every day and waiting for new plantings to mature a bit before harvesting.

Oh, and we’re waiting for that glowing orb in the sky to make more regular appearances ;)

How is spring going in your gardens and fields?

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. April 16, 2013 8:43 am

    Well, in some areas we can see the ground. In other areas we still see too much snow. I’m itching to get gardening, but I know the soil temp isn’t high enough yet, and it’s still too clod to be putting plants outside to harden off yet.
    So I wait….

  2. April 16, 2013 9:08 am

    So far, so good! We’re on week three on pasture, although we had terrible rains that threatened to spill the creek that winds through our leased property out of its banks. Last weekend we moved our 5.5 month old heifer home (weaning time) to hang with our new yearling heifer while the visiting bull services our cows. The grass is looking great and everyone is happy!

    • April 17, 2013 8:17 am

      Amy, I was up in your area this weekend, and geez the rainstorms I drove through. But boy the grass was sure starting to grow!

  3. A.A. permalink
    April 16, 2013 11:05 am

    Over here we just got the first wet week of the spring and we’re finally starting to lose the snow. The sunny days of most of March and the beginning of April were swell, but March had also some of the coldest nights this winter which kept the snow on the ground.

    I’m really looking forward to seeing the kale from the basement bolt, fingers crossed, as well as trying out a hugelbed I made last fall.

    Love the picture of Blake and Jane at the top, on their way to playing hide and seek I hope not :)

    • April 17, 2013 8:16 am

      AA, I am glad we didn’t really get any snow this winter. Plenty of rain though. I think the kale puts out more volume when it bolts than during the growing season, it’s a pretty incredible plant.

      I tried putting B and J together and that lasted about 5 minutes before we rescued Jane from the milk sucking vacuum. You can’t see it in the photo but there is a hot wire separating them. Close but no cigar. Now Blake is off in the hinterlands with her new herd mates.

  4. April 17, 2013 3:17 am

    I use the same integration principle when adding new hens to the laying flock. So far it works very well.

    In the garden I’ve gotten the peas in and parsnips and radishes. With 50 – 60′s during the day the last few days, things are greening up well. But the pastures won’t be ready to support cows for another couple weeks.

    Another gorgeous day in Western Mass today…

  5. Bev permalink
    April 17, 2013 5:58 am

    Here in northern CA it has been wind, some rain and blowing snow. Light snow. We call it styrofoam snow. Very small pieces that disappear instantly and you never get wet. We are stoking up the wood stove daily. Really cold. Even with that, Scott Valley is green with alfalfa already getting some height. We enjoy your early gardening. Love your hoop house!

    • April 17, 2013 8:12 am

      Bev, it’s crazy cold, we had snow mixed in on Sunday, now it’s dry and on the cool side, unless I’m in the greenhouse of course :D

  6. April 17, 2013 8:08 am

    Wet

    • April 17, 2013 8:11 am

      Dry and frosty here :) :(

      • April 17, 2013 8:16 am

        The cows are grazing ground that has nearly recovered from the piggies. In fact, the piggies appear to have improved the ground with the exception (or the inclusion) of ruts, swales and wallows they made. The cows are bulldozing all of that flat and eating the already 10″ fescue/oats/rye/orchardgrass mix that is growing out there. It’s a muddy mess but the recovery should be awesome as the cows are leaving plenty behind. You know, I should use my own blog for this sort of thing…

        • April 17, 2013 8:21 am

          Yeah, there you go. A new blog post. I have no idea what to write about :(

        • April 17, 2013 12:05 pm

          Current events, news, opinions or just what’s for dinner. Gossip you heard in the pasture. Pictures of cows eating grass. Pictures of dogs sitting near cows eating grass. Pictures of electric fence, fence posts, hammers and bags of mineral. Then ask a question to inspire reader comments.

        • April 18, 2013 5:37 am

          HFS, maybe a nap in the greenhouse will cure me. ;)

        • April 18, 2013 8:03 am

          Oh, golly. Today would be the day for it. The constant sound of rain on the plastic…

          I need to put a hammock in there.

        • A.A. permalink
          April 17, 2013 11:50 am

          Have you asked your animals, the land, the deer, your muse? If they don’t have stories for you to write, then maybe you need to open up to something else than writing right now? It’s also okay to just rest :)

        • April 18, 2013 5:37 am

          AA, I’m not speaking to the deer right now >:( I think a good session weeding quackgrass will give me lots of ideas!

  7. Janet permalink
    April 17, 2013 12:46 pm

    So jealous of your green grass. We are brown, dry, windy not a speck of grass anywhere. We are 3 months away from green grass. :(

  8. April 20, 2013 2:50 am

    Matron,
    Here in Nebraska we’ve had cool and gloriously WET spring (relatively!). I’m happy to see the buds still clenched tight against the cold, not opening just in time to get frozen like last spring. Rhubarb is beginning to push up out of the ground; my radish seedlings are just popping out; the most vigorous growth is inside the house, in flats under artificial lights. That’s okay. Spring will come; it always does. Love your blog.

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