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Winter is waning

March 2, 2008

We’ve had a glorious stretch of good weather this past week.  The soil was dry enough to cultivate around the garlic, and it actually smelled like spring.  My spring oat cover crop had winter-killed,  so actually hoeing was easy, and I actually got a head start on those pesky, early germinating weed seeds.  The winter rye that I frost seeded in the area that I plan to fallow this summer is finally starting to look like something.  The elk and deer are eyeballing it too, I’m sure.  Last spring,  it worked to graze the cover crop with our old Katahdin ewes.  The fresh manure repulses the deer and elk and they stay out of the garden, and in the woods where they belong!  The fresh sheep manure doesn’t matter either, because this fallow section won’t be planted until 2009. 

Those rows looked straight when I planted them! 
The garlic is Music and Oregon Blue.
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Breakfast!  L to R:  Mabel, Pretty Girl (she’s our bell cow), and Pretty One.
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 Frost seeded winter rye cover crop.
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Another way to tell winter is coming to a close, is by how deep the bedding is getting in the feeding sheds.  We grazed stockpiled grass until December, and moved the cows in, just at the first of the year.  This gives the pastures a much needed rest during our rainiest season.  They have a small sacrifice area outside, and the rest of the time they hang out in the sheds.  We add fresh bedding everyday to keep them dry and clean and to give them a nice place to hang out.  We want their manure!  If it smells, we add more bedding. If there is an odor, it means our fertility is evaporating and since our barns are too close to the road,  we try to be conscious of this fact.   Normally, the sheds have a composty smell, the cows only eat grass hay and free choice minerals so their manure is not quite as “pungent” as cows on grain.  This gives us a tremendous amount of stabilized manure/bedding to compost.  The bedding is between 3 and 4 feet deep, so it was time to raise the feeder gate.  The feeders are bolted to logs, which we can raise with come-alongs.  We also have a log on the back wall of each shed to act as a rub rail.  (or if you know cows, it’s actually to keep them from pushing someone out through the fence)  Joel Salatin’s book, SALAD BAR BEEF details this system very well. We still use many methods from that book.  Out of all the faming books we’ve read, I think that this is the book that changed how I view our farm and our farm life.  We first learned about un-schooling in that book and saw the book as more of life plan than just another how-to-book.  Joel has a way of combining permaculture,  biodynamics, and holistic resource management in such a way it is actually hard to believe.  But, the subject of Joel Salatin will have to wait for another post…

 Don’t ask who the Gelbvieh steer is – That will be in a post titled  BULLS (and it’s a long one)
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Feeding Shed bedding temperature, March 2, 2008
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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 14, 2008 5:30 pm

    One of my jobs on The Farm was to check the temperatures of the hay. We kept a log and shifted bales around regularly.

    The hay barn never burned. Not even once. I guess it worked.


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