Sunday, May 16, 2010

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

So many things can change in a week's time, can't they?

Our pasture lease deal fell through, much to our disappointment. Our neighbor thought to check with his homeowner's insurance agent - always a good idea - and discovered he would not be covered if anything happened. He technically can't have more than two head of cattle on his land, and they'd have to be his own. Otherwise, he would have to purchase agricultural insurance, which his current company doesn't offer and he doesn't want. We plan to ask our ever wise Highland breeder friends about their insurance and leasing experience, and perhaps we can find a policy that would adequately cover us and our neighbor. He brush hogged, or mowed, his pasture yesterday to keep it from getting too tall and seeding everywhere, which actually weakens the existing plants. This was the right thing to do, and honestly, even if we could have built a fence this weekend and moved the cattle over, the grass was probably already overripe and something they wouldn't have enjoyed eating. Perhaps we can get insurance in place for fall grazing, or wait until next spring. Or maybe it's just not to certainly wasn't a perfect arrangement, but something we had hoped to try. Now we're back to Plan A, which is experimenting with management intensive grazing on our own land. Our grass isn't growing well (so far), and we've probably left the cattle in each area a little too long with each rotation (so far). Currently they're in the paddock with the barn, eating haylage. Poor Bridgit has such a hard time keeping her weight up when nursing we decided to provide this extra nutrition, plus give all of our grass a break. And who knows, with everyone confined in a smaller area, maybe we can even work with Natalie and the calves some!

In other news, my broody chicken experiement went haywire, big time. On day 3 I checked and discovered all but five of the 12 eggs were missing or broken. Someone (her? the new rooster?) was eating eggs. I cleaned out the nest box and put the cleanest three original eggs, plus five new ones, back under her. By the next day, they were all broken or missing. Grr. Now, I and my arrangement are partly to blame, since technically I should have moved her somewhere else with her nest. She was nesting in the "favorite" nest box, a cardboard Costco box with a cut-out. Still, egg eating is B-A-D, and I really didn't want chicks right now anyway, so I decided to put an end to the broodiness. Into a wire chicken crate she went, with food and water, for two days. Like magic, she came out on Day 3 with no desire to set. Yay. She was shaky and acting weird, though, and was also pale in the comb and wattles (those hangy-down fleshy things chickens have). It's been several days and she's back to normal now. Egg production is down, and the disappearing egg trick continued for a few days, but seems to be coming to and end. Perhaps I'll let her go broody some day in the future...but not now.

Meanwhile, the perennials and weeds in the front garden are going nuts, the vegetable garden is tilled and looking marvelously fluffy-soiled, the cows have "mowed" our back yard twice for us (thanks, girls), the calves are growing like little much goes on it's hard to document it all!

Natalie mid-mow.

Cowboy, 1 month and 5 days old.

Someone's been in the freshly tilled garden! Clyde, 1 month old today.


  1. Just a thought... Do you have a county extension near you that could help with your pasture issue? We completely tilled under our land when we first bought it and started over. They helped us with lots of great advice. Love your blog. We really want to get some highlands, and dairy goats, and meat sheep and...

  2. I'm curious about how much those calves weigh now. I taped my Highland calf (5 weeks old)at 130 pounds!!! I'm just wondering if that's normal or if he's just enormous. He was around 80 pounds when he was born too.



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