Saturday, January 7, 2012

Winter Grazing

As wintry as January was in 2011, it’s the opposite this year. Day after sunny day we watch and wonder when the heavy snows will arrive. We had a light snow cover before Christmas, but it's gone now. 

An "open" winter means we can keep grazing. We stockpiled lots of feed, cutting some hay ground only once and letting it grow back. This means plenty of grass sitting idle through late summer, through fall, and now into winter, waiting for the cows to arrive. There’s just something about deep dormant grass that fills this cowgirl’s heart to the brim. It’s a satisfying, money-in-the-bank kind of feeling. Like shelves lined with gleaming canned peaches or firewood stacked in the garage. 

I imagine the soil organisms, fat and full, pregnant with life that will jump start next spring. They thrive in an environment that has been rested from grazing, or cutting, long enough for the above ground plant material, and in turn the roots below, to express themselves. Just as humans need a good night’s rest, so does grass need renewal time.

But too much rest isn’t good for a human body, nor a grass plant. So we exercise, work our minds and our bodies to stay healthy. The “work” of grass is providing food for grazing animals, who leave behind dung and urine as a bonus to feed the soil. It’s a symbiotic relationship, the kind that nature is so good at.

It's this pursuit of grass that means we move cows on a regular basis, even during Christmas vacation. The kids helped us a couple of times while they were home.  As Anna wrote on Facebook, “it’s not home until we move cows.”

1 comment:

  1. "Like shelves of canned peaches"....ahh, I see! -good-
    like human exercise: such a clear powerful metaphor.