Monday, August 19, 2013

The Herd and Pasture

#2 is back from camp.  We gave him a nice easy job to get him readjusted to farm life- go out and wrangle those calves.  I have to say, Dorie's calf, Majesty, (in honour of the royal baby, lol) is one tough little cookie.  She fought him tooth and nail, dragged him across the yard, kicking the whole way.  To his credit- he never let go.  To his detriment- he took a few scrapes and I'm sure he'll be bruised and sore for a few days.

Round two went better, with Mindy's calf being much smaller and younger.  They're both tagged now.  Then it was time to flip and castrate.  Um...  er...  I don't think we'll be castrating that!  The little one is a girl.  Her working name is Mugsy, for the moment.  I don't love it, but she doesn't seem to mind.

We worked on the fence again yesterday afternoon.  The little 'cow proof' zone, a bad spot in the corner where the alders have been growing through, and the section beside the chicken pen where Toothless broke through in early spring to get to Mildred.  Guess what happened while we were working.

Mindy and Sharlotte escaped!

Seriously- I need to shoot that cow.  They didn't wander far, and were back fairly quickly.  Mindy fed Mugsy, then we drove the lot of them into the cow proof section.

This morning, everyone but Sharlotte is still in there.  That doesn't really surprise me though.  There's still a bit of the inside fence line with only three strands of barbed wire, and Sharlotte is still small enough to walk through it.

So, we now have four cows- Dorie, Mildred, Mindy and Nelly, and four heifers- Sharlotte, Maureen, Majesty and Mugsy.  I still want to keep a heifer from Mildred, but otherwise, I think we're at our limit.  Unless, of course, I do shoot that cow.  That'll give us 10 full grown cattle to overwinter, including the bull.  That will at least double our hay consumption starting winter 2014.  Which means, by fall of 2015, these girls have to start paying for their keep.  Up til now, we've just been a hobby farm, raising our own meat, growing our herd.  We are about to embark on the journey of becoming 'real' farmers.

Next fencing job will be to repair and cow proof the next section, to move them into in a couple of weeks after the grass has had a chance to grow a bit. 

A little sketch of the pasture as is.  Section 2 is where the cows are now.  Section 3 is the next section to repair.

I messed up from the chicken pen.  Ignore the lower line.  The barn side really shouldn't be as wide as the open side either.

And here's a sketch of the eventual plan for the pasture.

Section 3 will be split into two sections, and I forgot to draw in the gate between them.  That probably won't happen this year though.  I'd like to get the dividing fences between section 5/6/7 and 12/11/8, and then the fenceline between 12/11/8 and 13/10/9 done this year, along with the far side of section 1.  That would give me 6 sections to start next spring.  Of course, I've had this planned for two or three years now, and it never seems to happen.  Still, the dream of being able to rotate the cows through grazing areas lives on.


  1. Majesty is a perfect name for this year. :-) Are you using the Joel Salatin method of grazing cattle? It looks like an exciting plan.

    1. Thank you.

      Somewhat, yes. I want multiple pens to confine them for grazing, but permanent fencing rather than electric. I want to be able to separate the critters- a couple of the pens will eventually be goat proof, maybe, lol, and maybe a spot to keep Toothless away from the young heifers next year. And definitely some place to keep them in the future when fence repairs need to be made.

  2. Will the fences be sturdier than the ones they are breaking right now? How large are the 5, 6, 7 areas? How many acres is the whole picture? I read about a guy who kept cows on 1/4 the recommended acreage by rotating cows and crops. Is that what you will do?

    I would not be brave enough or strong enough to handle cows.