These cows await the fence to be moved to graze another strip of stockpiled fescue.
The very dry fall induced an alternate strategy for feeding cows this winter. Typically we first graze through all fescue pastures, which usually takes us into February, and then feed hay for another six weeks until grass begins to grow. This approach works well when the period for feeding hay is relatively short. Because quality of hay is generally fairly poor and our cows are lactating, we can't extend this scenario much longer than two months. Given the dry fall prevented normal growth of pastures this year, we would be out of grass by the end of December, had we adopted the typical strategy.
Instead, we started feeding hay in November to budget remaining grass. Cows are receiving a daily ration of high-quality grass, which should last until mid-April, while being supplemented with hay. We bought dry round-bales this year, and are unrolling them, as below on the left, which prevents grass from being killed by bottoms of bales that are not eaten. We do have some "wet" hay wrapped in plastic, made two summers ago on our farm. We are also feeding that, but do not have equipment with which to unroll the heavy bales, as below on the right, where cows encircle the feed. In sum, we are employing a combination of strategies - tightly rationed grazing, early feeding and unrolling of dry hay, and feeding of wet hay, to make it through the winter. Our long-term goal is to grow enough grass not to feed hay at all, but we have not yet achieved that objective.
This past weekend, Susan, Bo, and I sorted three rams from 80 ewes. The rams enjoyed a 17 day sojourn with the ewes, and now return to the drudgery of bachelor life. Lambs should accordingly arrive within 17 days in May, concentrating the focus on birthing for all of us. When Susan is not serving as attorney or culinary scholar, she lends authority as a shepherdess.
Our kitchen, like yours, was busy over the holidays. One of its creations was a spinach souffle, as pictured below. The golden filling comes from the golden yolks of our eggs.
We received an order for 25 containers of bone broth, for medicinal use. Susan thus made several large batches, employing raw ingredients pictured below: bones, shanks, and necks of both beef and lamb. These are browned and carmelized before simmering in stock for 24 hours. Roasted vegetables are added toward the end, and the result is a dark golden viscous pot of honey...
We have missed you over the past two weeks, hoping your celebrations brought joys of family, food, reflection, and rest. This coming Sunday, Beth & Bob will be presiding at Clark Montessori, while Susan and I attend the funeral of a 95-year-old saint in Cleveland. We will not be at Findlay either Saturday or Sunday this weekend.
Please submit orders for pick-up in Hyde Park this Sunday, by Friday afternoon.