Friday, August 23, 2013

The big picture for the next year

I have to think a season or more ahead to be able to get things ready in time.  So I've been working on the farm plans for the next year.  Here's a basic outline of my goals for the next 12 months: 

The new farm has a lot more acreage, and it's good ground.  I have a realistic chance of being able to grow enough forage or crops on this ground to feed all of the animals that I raise; that's new to me.  I've had to depend on outside food for the last 7 years -- and while it's been good, that supply is variable, and the suppliers can be a little arbitrary as to who they give the food to. 

So I'm going to concentrate on testing out various types of crops and forage to see what works on this ground, and what it takes to grow it.  Selection of particular seeds for different characteristics, ground preparation and planting, planting timing and cultivation to reduce weeds, and then harvesting.   I'll be working with all of those this year with several different crops. 
Not weeding doesn't work

The farm buildings here will be reworked a bit to make them better for my operation.  A particular concern is the big barn; the previous owner froze 40 cattle to death in this barn -- no sides and no shelter in the winter from the cold winds that blow down the valley from the mountains.  So on the list are sides and insulation for this building, and probably reducing its capacity to what I'm able to use.  Right now I'm using about 1/8th of this big barn. 
The big barn makes the tractor look small

bedding straw stacked in big barn

winter hay stacked in big barn

winter alfalfa in big barn

2 comments:

Rich said...

I've never wintered cattle in a barn, but I wouldn't think that you would need or want to enclose a barn and/or insulate it.

I'd be concerned that enclosing the barn would reduce the amount of ventilation and would cause more respiratory problems.

My cattle are on pasture year-round and I had one hard winter where at the worst part we had about a week with low temperatures down to -25 F and highs that only reached up to about 10 F along with snow and ice. For weeks, I was chopping through about 10" of ice on the ponds so that they could get water. Except for a newborn calf that got frostbitten ears, I didn't have any problems with the cattle freezing to death.

Of course, I've also got beef cattle, and dairy cattle might be more vulnerable to cold.

Does anybody else in the local area have enclosed barns for their cattle?

James L said...

Hey Bruce,

You mentioned that you're thinking of attempting to grow much of your own animal feed. I guess you're talking about not just the cows, but also your pigs?

In your earlier posts however, I recall that you generally haven't been particularly fond of this approach for your farm. I think the rationale was that it simply wouldn't be worth the immense additional effort to plant, cultivate, harvest & maintain the pastures/crops required to feed the pigs....especially when compared to how cheaply grain can be purchased. Besides the huge amount of labour involved, there is also the costs of buying (or hiring) the appropriate machinery that would be needed.

Have your thoughts on this changed a little?