Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The grass is always greener

I was very fortunate this year to rent some cornstalks that bordered my own property. This makes life nice because there was no transportation cost to get there nor will there be any to return. The cows and their children walked through a gate and were there. This is the same way they will come home. I also will not have to move portable corral panels which will be a huge added bonus. The panels are heavy and cumbersome and Christine and the girls would rather do about anything rather than move corral panels. It will also be nice to be able to leave the animals on the corn right up until the day before the farmer wants in with his tractor so I can utilize all the feed value possible. Feed is by far the highest input cost and if you can use inexpensive feeds especially ones the cattle harvest themselves it sure helps potential profitability.

I am really hoping to be there until at least March 1 but with the nice weather I do not know if that will be possible. Farmers who do not own stock seem to get cabin fever when we have an early spring. If they would buy themselves a few cows to tend to daily in the winter they would not be so gung-ho. I saw two farmers disking corn stubble fields today. As a cattleman you get a bit frustrated at the farmer who wants to tillage his ground so early. I guess if I was a farmer that did not have cows I would get to the fields as early as possible myself. I cringe at the thought of being cooped up inside all winter either in the house, office, coffee shop or worst of all equipment shop! I notice that it is always the farmers that have a wife that is at home fulltime that get to the fields the earliest each year.

The fall pairs and the special needs spring calving cows are on the aforementioned acreage of cornstalks. They do have to travel a half to one mile each day back over a portion of my property to get to water. The portion they travel over is dry land range that was grazed pretty heavily this past summer so they do not spend that much time on it. The other 90% of my property in that pasture is irrigated pasture which has been dormant all winter so they have not traveled it much either. I knew I would eventually have to put up a hotwire fence to keep them off the irrigated portion so it could grow and they would be forced to finish eating the corn stubble.

Cows just love green grass and even though the new grass has barely sprouted this afternoon the whole group was scattered all over the hillside trying to nibble at the tiniest specks of green. You would think after three and a half months of eating nice brown dry corn husks, leaves and cobs they would be satisfied but not these gluttons. I have began supplementing the cows with 4-5 pounds each of alfalfa hay daily because even though there is still some corn stover left the grain is pretty much gone. The cows can still find their daily needs worth of food but need something with a bit of a boost to their protein needs.

Today after I fed them the alfalfa I snuck back behind them and put up a new hotwire fence to keep them off the grass. Once they finished their hay and had gotten a drink they all thought they would go back to the tiny green shoots. When they came to the fence they really raised a mooing ruckus about my new fence. I hope they forgive me in a few weeks when the grass has had a chance to grow a bit and they are allowed access to it. I knew I had lost my mind to a degree today as I stood there explaining to the cows the importance of patience and that immediate gratification is a problem in society.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is Blue bunch wheat grass aka Pseudoroegneria spicata.

Today’s picture is of 0922g son of 3922g born today. This is my favorite calf so far in 2010.