Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Nuanced Season

November is a quiet month, a subtle month. And as the year gets older, the landscape looks more and more like my wardrobe – neutrals. I own one melon colored t-shirt, a red wool coat and a couple of teal tops. Everything else is brown, gray or black. Hmmm. What does that say about me?

Maybe all it says is that I think neutrals are beautiful. That nuances are beautiful. And November is nuanced for sure. Even its holiday, Thanksgiving, the start of the cluttered Christmas season, is still bathed in neutrals and subtleties. Most Thanksgiving days are mocha colored, the color of bare tree limbs. And what’s not to love about mocha?

The cows are still in the mountains. We moved them to a new pasture where tall bunch grasses reach above the few inches of snow. A little snow is fine if it doesn’t get too cold or too deep. We walk around with our fingers crossed. Every day now is a gift away from the haystack.

The calves are grazing here in the valley. We took the heifers to a pivot of wheat owned by a man who isn’t afraid to let cows on his farm, a rare commodity in our community.  A farmer willing to run the pivot after the wheat is harvested and fall fertilize. He says the calves will reprocess the fertilizer and leave it for next year’s crop. The conditions were perfect this fall for good regrowth and there was plenty of seed since a rogue hail storm put 10% of the crop on the ground before threshing. Still it's an experiment and a bit of a gamble. Deep snow or super wet conditions could derail the grazing days/acre needed to make the whole thing work. 

We’ll share the labor, and when it’s done we’ll share the figures, and hopefully it will work out to the plus side of both our ledgers.   

Mark and Jesse strung an electric wire along the pivot so that we can move the fence by rolling the pivot every couple of days to give them a fresh paddock. We call this “rationing” of stock-piled feed. Statistics say you’ll increase utilization by up to 40% doling out the forage instead of letting them have it all at once. 

So it’s about cows as it always is. And it’s about trust. And about continuing to seek new knowledge. Fitting for November when one feels reflective. When we take stock of the year behind us and think about what the next season has in store.  

calling the cows to change fields
"come on cows!"

rolling the pivot to change fields

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