Monday, December 20, 2010

Good fences make good pastures

When I’m flying, I wish there were an audio tour of what you can see below. (Except when you’re above the clouds, because then it would just be a running commentary on what you’re missing. Sort of like every time there’s a great astronomical event, like the BEST meteor shower you’ll ever see! Or tonight's lunar eclipse! And there’s a complete cloud cover. This has only happened 45 times in my life.)

An acquaintance once showed me her vacation pictures, and she had a few she’d taken out of the plane window. She said, “They were crop circles. I couldn’t figure out why there were so many crop circles. It was creepy.” I told her they were crops in circles, but they weren’t anything scary – it’s just that they were irrigated. Irrigation systems go in circles, and since it’s drier in the western US, they need water to grow. The corners simply didn’t grow.

When my dad was farming, he installed an irrigator for the pasture. As a result, the cattle can eat pasture even during years when there’s not much rain. We installed another one in a different field when we moved here. That's a picture of it on top of the page.

Last year, Kris divided the pastures into even more paddocks. (A paddock is just a word for an enclosed pasture where animals eat.) They moved the cattle every day so that each paddock had longer to grow in between the times cattle were grazing on it.

So from above, our pasture looks like a pinwheel. And every day, they move the cattle to a different section of the pinwheel. By the time they get to the beginning, the grass has recovered and is ready to be eaten again.

In winter, our heifers are still on pasture (even though we also feed them). Today the employees are replacing a temporary fence with a high-tensile fence. The heifers and deer keep breaking the temporary one. So even though pasture and fencing seem like warm-weather events, it’s something you can always work on in the winter.

So maybe someone is on a plane right now, looking down and wondering . . . “What the heck am I looking at?! Crop pinwheels?”

1 comment:

Jules said...

Two things: 1) I didn't know cows ate pasture. I just thought that's where they hung out. Interesting. 2) There used to be a restuarant in B.C. called The Paddock that I desperately wanted to go to- one day my mom gave me the choice of going there for lunch or going home to watch He-Man. I picked He-Man.