Too much of a good thing?

We have been overtaken by grass!  The first cut haying gave us a phenomenal yield — 201 bales from our north field.  But it was 3 days and long hours of work for Bob and John Lafayette’s crew. 

Our pregnant cows are doing their best to graze down the paddock just north of all those stacked bales.   They are hanging around the barn so we can keep an eye on them as their due dates approach and so they can enjoy the shade in the heat of the day.  Meanwhile, the main herd is in the south field doing their best to level the grass.  They eat.  They trample.  It’s all good!  But the grass is so tall that we cannot roll the tumble wheels.  The polywire is suspended too low to clear the seed heads of the grass.   So every time we want to give the herd more grass, we have to pick up each tumble wheel and carry it over our head to its new location.  This has never happened before.  And it sure looks silly.  But too much grass sure beats too little.  Every year the challenges are so different.

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Swashbuckling Granny

The day before my birthday, I saw a large package on my doorstep.

Well, sever me timbers!  A battery powered chain saw just showed up on my door step.  Thanks so much, Shel.  That is exactly the brand I had been looking at, and it was well rated by consumer reports.

I immediately made plans for an exciting day:

Tomorrow, the birthday girl will be:
  • using her bale unroller to lay some hay down the hill for the cattle,
  • spreading bedding hay around the barn, so the cattle will have a fluffy spot to park their butts
  • and learning how to cut up the tree that fell down on the fence in a heavy wind storm.

The Birthday Report:

bedding hay spread in barn

Those lucky cattle. A comfy place to lie down when it’s cold outside.

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Close ups with this year’s calves

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Thanks to Maddie Dawson, we now have some portraits of our calves to share with our supporters.  Maddie described the herd as “very relaxed, happy and healthy!”  It you want to observe the cows and calves in person, they are … Continue reading

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Fourth of July Parade

South Hero celebrates independence day with a parade down South Street. This year’s theme was “essential workers”, so our Farmers’ Market needed to be represented! Our farmers worked hard last year to produce food for the community and sell it at the market. Here’s Joan driving our farm van with the farmers’ market’s banner. On one side of the van, we display the vendors logos; and on the other side, we thank our community sponsors! [photo credits: Bob Fireovid, Rob Swanson and Liz Monley]

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First Cut – incredible yield

It’s hard to believe that in just one day we mowed, raked and baled 188 large round bales of hay, with 160 bales coming from our south field. In short, the first photo on the left turned into the two photos on the right. Look how high the grass is in the first photo! Now it looks like a golf course, so green, so smooth, so beautiful. Thanks to all our help – Fred Bartle mowing and moving bales, Holden & Brad Goulet raking, John Lafayette baling.

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Kicking up our heels over grass!

Turn out day!!!! Finally, the green stuff on the other side of the fence is accessible. Bob and Joan lead the cattle down a lane to the open field where they will begin the grazing season. As they go through the “gate” to the field, they may casually stroll in, charge in, or even throw in a little kick or jump. Then we just listen for the “rip/tear” of the cattle shearing off the grass to gorge themselves. We wonder whether the cattle appreciate the view of Lake Champlain, as we do.

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Winter Bale Grazing

So what is “bale grazing”? It’s a practice of feeding out bales of hay on the frozen fields where the manure and hay leftovers will be welcome soil amendments in the spring. We do this only when the ground is frozen, to avoid soil compaction. The metal ring around the bale is to prevent the cattle from using it as bedding. January 5 was the start of this winter practice for us here in South Hero.

Calling the cattle to eat the bales of hay.

Our herd eating four bales of hay on our frozen pasture.

The next day, we check up on them.

During the winter bale grazing, we feed on alternate days. But of course, we check up on the cattle daily, as well as making sure their frost-free stock tanks in the hoop barn are working properly.

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Interview of Bob by a nutritionist

We hope you enjoy this podcast by Dr. Suzy Wilson of Cedarwood Natural Health Center in South Burlington. In it, she interviews Bob about organic farming.

Suzy is a chiropractic physician and clinical nutritionist; and her podcast series, “Next Seven,” is named for the criterion used by Native Americans to choose between alternatives when making communal decisions. They aspired to take the path that would provide the most benefit over seven generations.
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To Know Love, Go to the Water

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While viewing this photo, listen to Kate Eggleston’s song GO TO THE WATER (at Enjoy!

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Helping Grandma

What a gift and a joy when grandchildren come to the farm to help. At 14, Cole is a big help — driving us around, refilling the mineral feeder with more salt and kelp, setting up fencing and water tanks. Cole yearns to interact with the cattle. Slowly, he builds their trust and is thrilled when they allow him to touch them. The chickens are more accessible;-)

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