Birds of Prey

This weekend I got a surprise when I stumbled upon a dead hawk in the pasture.  It is pretty rare to find a top tier predator dead of natural causes.  It wasn’t warm, but it also wasn’t too stinky or fly covered so it must have been recently deceased.  I brought it up for the kids to investigate.  We were all duly impressed by the sharpness of its talons and beak, the solid strong head, and the large wing span. But hawks aren’t the only predatory birds around here.  How about them chickens?  I… Read More

Crop Failure Etiology

This year I’ve tried planting annual forage crops for the pigs and cattle.  I’ve been raising livestock and managing perennial pastures long enough not to be a novice, yet not long enough to be an expert.  But when it comes to cropping, I’m completely inexpert.  And my results this year certainly back up my claims to knowing that I don’t know anything. In July I no-tilled Pearl Millet into a pasture.  I spent a little over $300 on that experiment, and that turned out to be a bust.  I have a few millet plants… Read More

Feeding Hay in August?

We pulled the cattle out of the woods this weekend and herded them a half mile to one of the open pastures, back to their normal grazing routine.  We’ve run the cattle through woods before, but this year we fenced in a lot more forest acreage.  We have a few places, as pictured above, where the tree canopy is dense and the ground is basically leaf mulch without much else, so those pieces won’t become productive silvopasture without tree thinning.  (By the way, Brett Chedzoy did a great job explaining to me the use of basal… Read More

Hand Stacking

The twine on an oat straw bale came undone, so I ended up forking it all and carting it home loose.  The kids couldn’t lift the loaded pitchforks high enough, but they helped by climbing on top of the stack and packing it down so we could get all the straw collected in one trip.  Some people pay money to go on a hayride, here it is compulsory. Whenever I pick up a fork to move hay or straw, I am glad to live in the era of half ton round bales.  Of course, the removal of the… Read More

Identify This Fungus

I’ve been a woodsman more than usual this summer, working on fencing in the wooded southern edge of our farm.  We had been experiencing a dry summer until August changed all that with hotter than normal weather and lots of rain.  In the woods this has triggered the fruiting of all kinds of mushrooms. I’m wondering if these mushrooms are chanterelles or winter chanterelles.  Any fungus folks out there who can help?  I really don’t know about edible fungi beyond puffballs.  I’ve been able to determine by the gill pattern that these aren’t poisonous Jack O’Lanterns…. Read More

Living la vida lodosa

Three inches of rain this weekend turned the packed dirt near the sows’ whey trough into a pig’s paradise.  A sound everyone should hear is that satisfying plop-splat as a 600 pound sow flops into perfectly gooey mud.  Just be sure to stand back when she stands up and starts shaking it off!

Fencing on the Cheap(ish)

Over the past few years I’ve worked to pare down my fencing costs.  I’m glad to have a six strand high tensile fence up near the road, but I’ve realized that for most of the farm that is far more than I really need.  I think the only places where I’d still build a four to six strand fence would be along roadways  (and most of my road frontage is already fenced accordingly) or in fields where I’m directly adjacent to one of my neighbor’s herds.  For the rest of the fencing… Read More