Livestock Are Always Dressed for the Weather
The past few days of highly variable weather have presented extra challenge for humans delivering feed and water, but the livestock always seem comfortable, as long as we do our job.
Last August and July were extremely dry at our farm and, as a result, we stopped mowing fields to preserve as much feed as possible. In the field above, we left standing a tall crop of iron weed and wild chicory, which can be awkward to work around, especially with sheep and border collies. But this winter we found the cows stripping seed-heads off the wild chicory. Energy resides in seeds, as in corn, and those left in the flower of the plant have provided nutrients to the cows this winter. You can see in the picture above how they grazed the standing chicory plants on the left side and are working on those on the right, into which they were just released. We are discovering how weeds (or forbs) serve as an important component of the forage-base.
We grazed the last of our pasture at the end of February, so had to commence feeding round bales this past week.
On Tuesday we moved the cow herd to a high ridge at the other end of the farm for feeding round bales, just before receiving several inches of rain that afternoon and evening, upon frozen ground. The creeks jumped the banks overnight and many fields were underwater by Wednesday morning. We had to rely on the tractor to wade through two feet of water in some places to feed ewes, cows, and dogs. And then this morning we awoke to another 6 inches of snow! So, weathering the weather is a challenge, best met by a number of contingency plans.
We are better prepared this winter than last for these challenges, but find ourselves looking forward to spring like everybody else. The obstacle in the meantime will be mud, presenting the most confronting condition of all for livestock and equipment. It will probably feel as if we are leaping from this frying pan into that kettle over the next month or so.
We look forward to seeing you this Sunday March 8 and next Sunday March 15 at the Farmers Market at Clark Montessori.
You may also order on-line at: http://grassrootsfoods.biz/on-line-purchasing, with next delivery being this Wednesday, March 11 at 4:00, at the corner of Pape & Bellecrest Avenues. The ordering window for this delivery closes Sunday evening. The next delivery date is Wednesday March 25.
In closing, we offer the picture below of a post-market dinner, we recently savored. It features beautiful foods raised by great local farmers: spinach from Becky, Brie cheese from Eduardo, apples from Dennis, greens from Adam, bread from Blue Oven, and chicken from Grassroots... One would have to travel far and wide to find a better Sunday dinner!
Despite the weather, in the weather, and of the weather,
Drausin & Susan