The Challenge of Mud!
The two alternatives for coping with this are: put livestock under roof or keep 'em moving on pasture.
We employ both on our farm, with preference for the latter. Dairy cows and calves, however, have to be under roof at this time of year, because cows are lactating heavily and calves are newborns. Exposure to wet, cold mud creates significant problems for both. So, for several months, they are sheltered and kept off pastures. The trade-off is a lot of bedding has to be spread in the barn, eventually collected, and then spread back on fields, which is a cost.
With beef cows, we just keep them moving, as illustrated in the pictures above and below. Round bales of hay are placed on fescue sod and allocated daily. The dense root mass of fescue is able to withstand damage from hooves, without collapsing entirely. These cows are ankle deep in mud, not hock deep, and thus stay dry enough. They are constantly moving forward to fresh ground, and are not milling around in the same locale, creating deep messes. They bed-down on remnant bales and high ground, and stay in remarkably good condition. All fertility from hay and manure remains in the field and does not have to be transported anywhere.
We spread red clover seeds in this pasture last winter, which given the above soil-to-seed contact, should result in an abundant stand of clover, where this mud lies, within about two months. The soil will be re-covered and the mud forgotten.
Our Easter Sunday saw us with a smoked, boneless leg-of-lamb, scalloped potatoes, baked apples & pears, ratatouille of zucchini, peppers, and squash, green salad, cheese, and rhubarb-almond pie, wrought from the caring hands of dear Susan. The meal was totally delicious, and the chef sent half of it to Landis, who had been up since 4 AM and was cooking for himself. He gave it gratefully high marks, for its timely abundance as well as taste.
The smoking technique was very simple: gas grill at 200 degrees, with one of the three burners off, placing meat over "off" burner, and placing container of wood chips and water over "on" burner, for about 2.5 hours. This was so easy and delicious, we will start having the processor de-bone legs, for those interested.
Please remember to fill out our questionnaire, so we can improve the quality of your lives: http://bit.ly/grassrootsfarms
Also note that our Farm Tour is scheduled for Saturday May 30 from 11-2. Please go on-line to sign up and pay in advance: http://grassrootsfoods.biz/on-line-purchasing. Charge is $25/person, with $10 serving as a credit towards purchases made that day. Children under 10 are free. We are asking for payment in advance because in the past people have signed up but not shown up or paid, which created cost for us.
We have filled inventory of lamb and ground beef at Keegans, for your convenience.
You may also order on-line, for next delivery to east Hyde Park being Wednesday April 22 at 4:00:
Finally, we look forward to seeing you this Sunday at Clark Montessori, from 10-1.
As the season turns,
Drausin & Susan