Jumping into the blog world, SCARY!
We are a family farm raising cattle on grass from birth to the processor. Yes grass fed beef. We are new to this blog stuff so new that I never even followed anyone on a blog so this may be funny. We have our sites on all grass all year with a little forage supplementation when the cattle need it. I believe this is the way to do it and the best for all involved. Hard yes but I still believe it is well worth the wait.
On this blog we will not debate the differences between grass fed and grain fed but we will let you know how we are doing on the farm. We are raising these cattle because we love the taste of grass fed meats and the effects from eating the grass fed meat. We will go through the struggles, ah ha moments and "wow" that was done right and worked out. We will use different types of management styles with the base coming from Holistic Management, Allen Savory..
We are learning that everything has a cycle and everything affects the cycles, water cycle, community dynamics, mineral cycle and energy flow. During our rotational grazing our goal is to only take enough for that day, to leave enough for the other animals on the land, to knock down enough grass to cover the soil and to feed the soil community. We will make mistakes on guessing how much our cattle will eat, how much needs to be left and what the other animals will need. But we will learn from these mistakes to make our land even better. We now feed several individual minerals now but our goal is to have the land produce most if not all of the minerals. To do this the soil must be healthy and thriving not on the decline. Our forage must be able to tap into the minerals and bring them into themselves and offer them to the animals.
The water we offer to the animals is supplied by a well and an under ground spring. The water gets moved to the cattle by gravity, solar, wind and electrical power. In one area we use gravity flow to supply 40 plus acres to 50 plus cattle. The only place we use power is to supply directly out of the well and pump water 1,000 feet and up 200 feet, We do our best to keep the cattle out of the creeks, streams and ponds to make sure they have fresh water. We do though use the cattle to shape edges of the the creeks and graze the banks to keep the creeks fresh and the vegetation filtering the run off and holding the soil in place. I did not believe this would happen until we saw it with our own eyes. We kept the cattle out of the drainage ditches until winter when we started opening the pastures bigger and did not back fence. the cattle trimmed the banks of grasses, trees and knocked down the old dying plants. When we returned the once bare banks were covered with grasses and now holding the soil in place instead of jagged and letting the soil fall off into the ditches.
A good indicator of healthy soil is how many earthworms are in a square foot of soil. The first year we could not find any earthworms, no really no earthworms. Now we find them regularly but still there are not enough. We use rotational grazing moving cattle daily giving them from a half of an acre to 5 acres in the winter. We can see that the rotational grazing is helping the soil with the return of the natural vetches, grasses and covering of the soil that was bear or covered with weeds when we took over. when we started we did not see any quail but now we have several coveys and other ground nesting birds is another sign . We have come a long way but have a much farther way to go to get this farm's soil healthy again. Too many years of continuous grazing not giving the land rest so the plants can recoup. Then cutting hay for years which mines the minerals away from the land.
Since there is nobody around us that we know of doing these things I have to look to books and read a lot from Allan Savory, Ian Mitchell Innes, Greg Judy, Julius Ruechel, Bill Murphy, Andre Voisin, Temple Grandin to name some and talk with Mark Bader and Dr. R. P. Cooke.
I hope you will join us on our journey.