Innisfree Farm: Day 16 – winter grass

What do pastured cattle eat during the winter?  Hay!  These bales are around 3 1/2 feet tall, and 6 of them will fit in our bale wagon.  Depending on how cold/snowy it is during a given week, it will take our 30 cows & calves 3-5 days to eat all that…so we need a lot! […]

What do pastured cattle eat during the winter?  Hay!  These bales are around 3 1/2 feet tall, and 6 of them will fit in our bale wagon.  Depending on how cold/snowy it is during a given week, it will take our 30 cows & calves 3-5 days to eat all that…so we need a lot!  This is hay stored in our barn, and we also have outside storage for more bales.  There is a “bale spear” attachment for our tractor that we spear the bale with, then move it to the wagon.  The cows are always pretty excited to see the empty wagon leave the paddock and return full of bales – they usually don’t even wait until we’ve parked the wagon to stick their heads in and start munching.

This just shows that you *can* raise good beef on grass…corn isn’t necessary.  We feed them bales, oats (which is more of a treat than anything), and we also have large mineral buckets out for them (no grass is perfect, and the minerals our grass lacks are important for healthy pregnancies and calves, so the mineral buckets are their “daily vitamins”).

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Innisfree Farm: Animals and their games

To the casual observer, animals probably seem pretty simple.  The cows are munching grass in the pasture, the chickens are clucking around the chickenyard looking for bugs and worms.  Once you spend any amount of time around those animals though, … Continue reading

To the casual observer, animals probably seem pretty simple.  The cows are munching grass in the pasture, the chickens are clucking around the chickenyard looking for bugs and worms.  Once you spend any amount of time around those animals though, you start to see their personalities…animalities?

The cows.  Sedate bovines, heads down in the grass, tails swishing.  All true, but when you have black cows who stay in the barn for the coolest parts of the day and head to pasture in the heat of the afternoon, I start to wonder if their brains have been a little overheated.

Chickens contentedly pecking in their yard.  Except when the garden is directly on the other side of that fence and there just *has* to be something better to eat over there.  Like the corn we just planted.  Then replanted.  We have one hen whose routine (has been ever since she could fly over the fence) is fly over that fence, scratch around all day, then fly back over the fence at night.  It’s now a morning game – look out the window, see the hen scratching in the garden, shoo her to the fence, she flies over, repeat later that day.

Goats are great lawnmowers, but, like the chickens, are certain that the grass is greener and tastier on the other side of their pen.  We move them to a new section of grass every week or so, and the first thing they typically do is eat around the perimeter of their new pen, then stick their heads through the panels and eat as far on the other side of the panel as they can.  Then they will deign to eat the rest of the grass in their pen.  As it turns out, goats can push pretty hard and can bend a cattle panel.  That was news to me.

Then there’s the cats, but that’s for another post!

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