Saturday, August 13, 2011

Welcome, Dan!

Dan, our newest addition
I wasn't planning to add any more critters, but when I visited a neighbor that has a few White Park cows, he had a little steer that he was willing to sell.  I put my name on him, but my neighbor and I got our signals crossed and he took the steer to the sale barn!  Didn't I just say I would not buy any animals there?  Anyway, I didn't want this boy to go to waste on someone who wouldn't appreciate him.  With the general bias towards black cows in our region, I bought Dan for a bargain.  Still, I would gladly have paid more to avoid subjecting him to the stress and disease of the sale barn. 

Spontaneous combustion...

...It's not just in Dickens.

We always say that fresh manure is "hot" and the the compost piles are "cooking down," so I shouldn't have been so surprised when I went out to turn the piles tonight and found smoldering ash in the middle.  Even on a 90 degree evening, I could feel the heat from the tractor seat with every scoop.

Pasture in the drought

Our native grass pasture, 8/2/2011

Our neighbor's non-native pasture, 8/2/2011

I've been so pleased with the way our grass has weathered the last month of high temperatures.  That's no real credit to us; the native grasses grow deep roots and are "warm-season" growers.  Most of the grazing land in eastern Kansas and surroundings is managed for "cool-season" grasses that can out-perform my natives in the early spring.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lasagna garden in July

Too hot for chores!
Can you blame me if weeding has fallen off of my priority list?  The tomato plants are keeping us well stocked, though the canning crop is yet to come.  My late planted corn is doing well.  I expect a great crop of corn ear worms for the chickens, and the pigs and cows have been fighting over the green leaf corn plants that I have been thinning out.  These must be a great snack since the pigs leave not a morsel when they get an armful of corn stalks.  I've harvested a marginal crop of onions due to the chicken destruction they endured early on, but I'm overflowing with garlic with plenty to use and replant in October.  The biggest disappointment so far has been my green beans.  The first planting yielded well until the hot weather put a stop to blossom production, and my first try at succession planting shriveled in the sun.  Now should be the time to start my fall plantings, but maybe a week or two will give us a break in the weather...
Garden after one month of 100 degree days

2011 Calf photos

Abby (left) and Asher playing King of the Hill

Asher, 2 months old
Our herd is now down to Mary and her heifer calf, Abby, Martha, and her steer calf, Asher, and yearling steers, Abe and Jake.  Agnes is now in the freezer and Catalina went to a new home where she will live out her life as a pet.  The irony of our new smaller herd is that we may have the best grass in the neighborhood this year with the intense heat.  (Asher is standing in a patch of weeds above, though.)  We've had a month of 100 degree days now and the main staples for cattle grazing, brome and fescue, are nearly devoid of nutrition as a result.  Our native grasses are thriving in spite of the heat and my biggest pasture management problem is that I don't have enough mouths to eat the grass down to keep its quality through the fall and winter!  My neighbor is thinking of feeding hay soon, but I have offered to host his herd of 20 cow/calf pairs here until we get some rain.  This same neighbor keeps me supplied with good hay, so I'll be happy if he takes me up on it.