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The State of the Stockpile

September 8, 2011

The grass stockpile that is.  Since we started figuring out how to stockpile our forages and increase our rest periods between grazing times,  I don’t worry about running out of grass during our dry summers.  However, we have had to learn what a well rested pasture looks like, and to not take our pastures for granted.  We are grass farmers, not beef farmers.  If we take care of the land and grass, the beef will thrive, so we focus on forage.

August 20, 2011.

The photo above was taken on August 20th, if you look to the left you see the grass recovering behind the cows in an orderly fashion that follows my grazing pattern in this particular field.  It looks much different to the naked eye than through the camera lens.  Green up is starting about 3 days behind the cattle like clockwork, despite not having any measurable rain for some time.

September 1, 2011.

This photo taken (11 days later) from the same place shows the continued green up behind the cattle as they rotate through the field.  Despite the lack of rain, our pastures are greening up behind the cows and look verdant, not spring lush verdant, but healthy and green.  Other pastures in our locale are done for the year, used up and grazed close with soil exposed to the hot, baking sun.

September 1, 2011.

You can see green grass in the background too, where we grazed earlier and cut hay.

August 20, 2011.

The preceding pasture pasture is showing good regrowth.  This portion is about 30 days  of rest, on a south facing slope.

August 20, 2011

Same grass,  30 days rest,  thick and growing up through the trampled forage.

August 20, 2011.

A close-up of the same grass, the trampled litter is providing food and shade for the soil critters, while also shading the soil from the intense heat.

It’s really hard to show the grass regrowth with camera.  Directly in front of the cow, 3 days behind the current paddock, the grass looks like this below.

Lots of litter cover.   Once the cows leave, the grass begins the recovery process almost immediately instead of going dormant.

Kind of looks like a train wreck to the untrained eye, just as brown as the burnt up pastures in my town.  But I have retrained my eyes to see the pasture differently.  Not as something to be taken for granted but to mold and shape into a different landscape than what is considered a normal livestock pasture.  And I like what I see.

Compared to the method illustrated on yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday post, applying carbon and cow manure with just cows and wee bit of fencing is much simpler and probably much better in the long run.  There will always be a place for composting animal manure on our farm, because I like to grows annuals too, but I am liking tall grass mob stocking more and more as a path to better pastures.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 8, 2011 8:17 am

    I’m so jealous! We have had a month of no rain, and I ran out of places to graze. Well, I could have passed the sheep back through again, but it simply hadn’t recovered, and I wasn’t willing to take one step forward and three steps back. For now, the sheep are on hay and corn. We’ve had 9″ of rain in the last three days, and more on the way, so I’m hoping in 4-6 weeks or so, I may be able to get a little more grazing in before winter sets in and the grass goes dormant.

  2. September 8, 2011 8:32 am

    I’m impressed. We never ran cattle, but as a former farmgurl, love seeing good stewardship of the land!!!!

    Much peace,

  3. September 8, 2011 9:53 am

    I sure hope I can learn all this when we finally get to our retirement property. That is exactly what I would like our pasture to do. 🙂

  4. Lonni permalink
    September 8, 2011 10:01 am

    Matron, your posts are so interesting and useful to me. In a couple of years we will retire to a small family farm for which we have recently assumed responsibility. This farm has been in my husband’s family for almost a century. Currently it is leased for rye grass production. We’d like to take some of it out of rye grass and try to restore pasture. We hope to raise stock, beef or sheep. From grass to pasture shouldn’t be too difficult … but I know now there’s more to pasture than just grass. Thanks so much for your intelligent and well illustrated essays.

  5. volcanobrian permalink
    September 9, 2011 7:40 am

    Your grass is a thing of beauty, especially when you can see how it responds to being taken care of. Love your blog.

  6. September 10, 2011 8:07 pm

    I just watched a really interesting film that reminded me of you. It’s called A Farm For the Future. You can go to this post on my blog and find the link for the film if you’re interested.
    I absolutely love your posts, and have learned so much from them. I’m so glad you decided to share your knowledge with all of us!

  7. September 13, 2011 7:11 am

    Thanks for posting the before/after pictures. They are exactly what I was looking for. Your recovery times look excellent. Your pastures are recovering in your summer as ours do only in our spring!

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