So ED has been grazing her sheep and the cows and horses, not just here on our farm, but at a couple of different pastures in the neighborhood (thanks to gracious neighbors). One of the fields she’s been using is just down the road—we call it “Tom’s Field”, even though there is no longer any Tom associated with it. ED shares Tom’s Field with another neighbor—he mows part of it for hay, and he lets ED graze the parts of it that are too steep to safely mow. Here’s what the hayed part looks like:

You can see here that the grass is thin enough to see the ground in places, and our recent spate of dry weather has left the grass crisp and curled. The color isn’t great either—yellowish to brown. This was last cut in June.

 

Here’s a picture of the same field, taken the day before, on the part of the field that ED had been grazing, mostly sheep:

Check out the difference.

 

In related news, in another field, which we call Gebhart’s Field, we have recently discovered dung beetles. I don’t even know how to tell you how exciting this is. Those ancient Egyptian scarabs? There’s a reason dung beetles are sacred.

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That pasture isn’t looking bad for September! Thanks to ED and her hard work with rotational grazing!

These days our biggest chore is moving animals around. We are rotationally grazing cows, horses, chickens, and sheep. The cows and horses are grazing a neighbor’s field, and they’re pretty easy, requiring only a single strand of electric wire to contain them. They only graze at night, however, because the heat and bugs are too bad during the day. So they snooze in the cool barn all day, and go out on pasture in the evenings.

The cows’ milk is beautiful, bright yellow and very creamy. We are feeding them so little grain—just a 3 or 4 pound scoop of a mix of chicken scratch and dairy pellets per day. I think we’ll stop that by the end of the week, at least for Pearl, who thrives on forage. Their production has gone down a bit (I think we’re getting 4 or 5 gallons a day from Pearl) but both cows are gaining weight and looking beautiful, and who cares if there’s a little less milk when the input is almost nothing? And, really, the milk is just gorgeous.

The chickens are in a chicken tractor in the garden, and they have done an astonishing job of clearing the rampant weeds.¬† I really enjoy their company while I work out there digging beds and planting and mulching—whenever I turn up a worm I throw it to them, so they’re a very attentive audience! They’re very busy and content, and they’re laying well.

The sheep are getting rotated around our pasture in their new electro-net pen. They are also putting on weight, even the ewes with lambs. The rams and wethers¬† look great—time to butcher those wethers soon! I don’t quite have my technique down for moving them—I fall down a lot—but I’m getting better! And the pasture is so dramatically improved this year—already!

I am the most boring person on earth right now. All I want to talk about is grass. I sure have a lot of tolerant friends!

What an enormous relief to see the grass growing! After a winter of scrambling to get enough hay for everybody, it’s so exciting to know we’ll be able to put them all out on pasture soon. We’re holding off until the grass is really ready, which is hard since we have to keep buying hay until then, and the animals know there’s grass out there, so they don’t want the hay, using their time instead to try to break out of wherever they are to get to all that luscious green.