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Grazing

Posted 6/4/2008 7:41am by Eugene Wyatt.
On Tuesday Senator Barack Obama became the Democratic Party's nominee for President of the United States.
 
On Tuesday I cut the paddock where the rams would go for their next grazing rotation.  The orchard grass had matured to 3 feet in height.  Letting the sheep in would trample it.  Cutting the grass to a 6 inch height would prevent this and facilitate re-growth in the same way that mowing a lawn does.  The grass was flowering and pollen was thick in the air and I was sneezing madly as I cut the weedy stalks down with the five foot rotary cutter, colloquially called a "brush hog", attached to the three point hitch of my old red MF tractor.  At 540 RPM the cutter can knock down most vegetation, even saplings up to 1.5 inches in diameter; it is made by Woods, an equipment manufacturer headquartered in Illinois.  The model I own is called a Dixie Cutter.

When I’m on the high horse of my tractor with the hog screaming behind me, laying waste to everything in my path, I see the Union Army's Major General William Tecumseh Sherman on his March to the Sea, cutting a 50 mile wide swath of destruction from Atlanta to Savannah, in the winter of 1864.  That Dixie Cutter is a hell of a machine.

Over the fireplace I've hung a family relic, a snakeskin handled sword from the Civil War.  Inscribed on its blade is “Stand by the Union.”
 
In 1968 Senator Robert F. Kennedy said in a speech to the Voice of America that things are "...moving so fast in race relations a Negro could be president in 40 years…we are making progress.  We are not going to accept the status quo." 
 
Bobby Kennedy stood by the Union.
 
Tags: Grazing
Posted 6/3/2008 6:14am by Eugene Wyatt.
Sheep Drink
 
Sheep need water.  When the sheep are rotated to a new paddock, the water tub must be moved with them. 
 
I like to look in on the sheep twice a dayYesterday evening when I got to the ewe paddock, the float valve that regulates the water level in the tub was spraying water in the air with a hissing sound.  I clamped the valve in place (on the right) to shut it off.  No longer disturbed by the splashing, this thirsty ewe and her lamb walked over to the water tub for a long drink.
 
Posted 6/2/2008 12:08pm by Eugene Wyatt.
Sunday morning the temperature was in the 60’s and was to be in the 70’s by mid-afternoon;  the sun was friendly in the clouded blue sky, the humidity was low and a gentle breeze blew.  To work in the fields today was a vacation: you would have paid me to be there.  Poem romped in the high grass behind Shade's Tree, she would bound up to see where she was going then drop out of site between bounds to come up again like a porpoise. Fence had to be installed to enclose a new 4 acre paddock of fresh grass, then the sheep had to be moved in their rotation to graze it.

Rotational grazing is the practice of dividing up available pasture into multiple smaller areas, called paddocks, and moving grazing animals from one paddock to the next after a number of days. The grazing animals will return in rotation to a previously grazed paddock when the grasses in it have re-grown sufficiently.

The grazier manages the grazing by determining the number, size, and layout of the paddocks; the number of animals to be grazed; and when to rotate the animals from one paddock to the next.  Rotation decisions are based on estimates of the amount of forage in each paddock, soil conditions, present and forecast weather conditions, season of the year, and condition of the animals.

Practically, observations of pasture height (amount of forage) determine when the animals should be rotated.  Ideally, they are moved to a new paddock when the grasses are 9 inches in height and they should be moved out of a paddock when the pasture has been eaten down to 4 inches in height.   Between those heights, grasses grow best as there is sufficient leaf surface to permit photosynthesis: the conversion of light energy to the chemical energy that nourishes grazing animals.  Grasses above 12 inches in height have diminished nutrition for the grazing animal.

Rotational grazing  permits the pasture area to carry (to nourish) more animals over the grazing season and it prevents the grazing areas from being over-grazed such that the sward continues to improve (as maintained by grazing animals) from season to season.  It is good for the animal and good for the land.

The fence to be moved is a portable electric net.  The fence is 34 inches high and 164 feet long.  The electric net is supported on insulated plastic posts that have spiked metal tips that are pushed in the ground along a line and usually connected together.  A net fence weighs 13 pounds when rolled up for carrying.

When the net fence is electrified by connecting it to a powerful energizer it will contain sheep and keep predators away from them. Animals learn the fence by touching it once. The portability of electric net fencing makes rotational grazing possible anywhere grass grows.  No longer needing my lawn mower, I sold it.
 
Tags: Grazing