Every time I walk outside the cows holler at me. They’re reminding me that we’re out of grass. I’m trying to keep the cows moving so they don’t graze the grass too low. The shorter the grass is, the longer it takes to recover. In a way, grass is like a solar panel - the longer the grass, the more area it has to capture the sun's energy. If the grass is cropped too short, the roots will die back, affecting its ability to regrow when it rains. But the cows have to eat! Yesterday I picked up 33 bales of hay. Feeding hay will keep the cows satisfied and extend the recovery period in the event that we get some rain.
I’ve also moved the steers born in 2021 to my father-in-law's place to reduce the pressure on my pasture. He had the foresight to start downsizing a few months back, and he has a bit of winter grass still standing. The next step (if we don’t get rain) will be to begin weaning the calves. This will help reduce the mamma cow 's nutritional requirements. Remember, she is nursing a calf AND carrying another in her womb. I'll have to supplement the calves with additional protein (alfalfa) to ease the transition during weaning.
In previous newsletters I’ve gone to lengths discussing the availability and price of feed. I won't dwell on that here except to say that I purchased 7,500 pounds of whole corn from a neighboring farmer. I’m trying to gear up to mixing my own hog (and perhaps chicken) feed. The corn, coupled with the wheat I bought two months back, will be the energy source. I’ll have to buy a protein source (soymeal) and a vitamin/mineral mix. I’ve been reading a lot about the dietary needs of different animals and searching diligently for grain mixing and storage solutions (does anyone have a grinder/mixer or grain silo for sale?). Mixing my own feed rations is going to be a new adventure for me. I enjoy learning new things and I’m hoping it will help control costs and make us more resilient to external market influences.
While John deals with the heat and drought, Molly is still fighting off the porch posse and their destruction of her front flower bed (as well as her peace and quiet). She'll update you next week on her most recent efforts to fend off these feathered fiends.