Monday, March 30, 2015

New Growth (part 1)

 Last year we had calves on some of our pastures.

Our wonderful home was a rental for years and therefore no one really took care of the pastures. The fields have been hayed year after year but no inputs in the form of fertilizers have been applied. Consequentially, our pastures have been neglected and it shows in the grass growth. Looking across the fields is deceiving because in the spring the grass appears lush. But a closer examination reveals thin course mono-culture of orchard grass and not much else. 

The idea was to improve our pastures with grass fed animals where the animal, in this case cows,  eat the tops of the forming grasses and spread the manure in concentrated areas through paddock rotation. We would also have meat to fill our freezers. Beef calves are very expensive right now. The price of a feeder calf is in the $700-1000 range! But we have a commercial dairy within 3 miles of us. The 3 day old bull calves are very reasonable. And though they don't grow out like a beef calf might, they still produce a respectable amount of meat for the starting price. Last year we had these guys eating and pooping on our pastures all year long!

So yesterday I took a walk-about the property to see if I could detect new growth. It's very early in the season. The snow is really just now melted. And besides, I'm sure any goodness that has come from the calves will be seen in measurements of years, not months. But I couldn't help myself. 

Here's some manure from last year. It's hard to see but there is a little green just starting to show around the edges.

Up close and blurry.

It appears to be mostly grass. No clover or other forbes, yet.
But it's coming.

We will possible put more calves out on the pastures again this year. If we continue to improve our pastures a little at a time with animals, there might come a day when we will have enough thick, lush growth to feed calves in the summer and fall and still have enough pasture left over to supply at least a little hay for the winter too. 

Tiny little tulip babies just poking their heads out in the flower beds.

I know that's asking a lot from just cows and pasture rotation. 
But a girl can dream, can't she?

Next, updates on the fruit trees!

(No, the grass isn't pink. It's the camera. But I'm not going to complain. At least I have a camera!)

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