We have 72 hectares on the farm that turns grass into protein for families. We named each paddock after a state in America … with the occasional city judging by circumstantial foliage ( see also Detroit, the shittiest paddock that is now the best paddock thanks to mob grazing ).
Nebraska is a north facing paddock that was once a corn field. When we bought the farm, corn was grown and dried ready for harvest just before Zelie was born. Funny side note, that big, beast harvester had a flat on the early morn of harvest so we watched as they called the tire changers in. The harvest wasn’t ours. It went the way of the renting farmer.
After the harvest was done, we worked the field with cattle to create better pasture for cattle.
The herd did a great job. Also, Brent seeded alfalfa. Great for drought. Great for flavor.
As the field transitioned, we caught some random weeds that the kids collected. That was a fun year for sunflowers.
Then the pasture started getting serious. New grasses volunteering amongst the alfalfa.
Then we decided to run chickens. Not many feed fresh alfalfa to their chickens. Too expensive. … but we have cows, so it worked out.
And chickens LOVE alfalfa leaves. When they are first introduced, they go right for the leaves above everything they have available on the buffet.
Our Nebraska started with a cornfield in France. Now, it feeds both cows and chickens. The pasture is so much more resilient because of the work the animals have done.
We are trying a different way to work our pasture keeping it full of life. Brent is doing a different hay program for the next few days. This year, the grass is still growing during these colds months, but we have some hay to play with.
We don’t need to feed hay, but we are using some of our older hay to see how the herd works with it.
Oh and they love it. They play with it. Like a baby with spaghetti. The cuddle it.
It’s cow-nip. Some wear it as a hat. Then they get stuck in. We are always after ways to improve soil and life in our pasture. The herd is fenced in a smaller area with rich food. They should trod the nutrients in and then move along to the next bit.
In other news … The French Army popped round for a visit. That was fun.
No warning. Lumi barked at a jeep and then suddenly it was on.
The herd was a bit spooked … yeah … you know I love that. They calmed down after we fed them breakfast.
The Army dudes were super friendly. We spoke with the sergeant. He said they won’t be long. They weren’t, but it was still a bit weird.
I thought y’all might like the photos of the French Army on our farm. Our friend said it looked like Halo. I totally agree.
blog title ref:
I won’t lie, I got caught up in the election. But politics aside, we keep on keeping on. Cows need new grass, water bowl needs to be moved, chickens need to be fed. No change there.
We are working through stock pile grass. Brown on top … green underneath. This is the season when the grass gets greener as the herd munches on.
Ms. Mouse is a household celebrity. She has persuaded us that this soft pile of warm is what you want. “Oh … and I kill vermin.” Ms Mouse cracked and ate a mouse in two minutes, tail and all. Perhaps you’ve seen her Twitter account. Alt-Cat.
The dogs keep it real. They want so much to be in the field, but really not a good idea … says the farmer’s wife. So they keep the angry birds off the chickens. They do a good job.
We are shifting a lot of chickens at the moment. Tasty, juicy birds. You can feed your family with one of our birds. Even better, our kids help out. They help out with the cows as well, but to their chagrin, most cow work happens during school hours.
“What a great year!” says the grass farmer raising cattle. “When will summer begin?!” says the lovely residents of Country France. Wow. We’ve been here over five years on the farm and I’ve not seen this combination of sun/rain/sun/rain/no freeze deal.
The grass is so tall ( how tall is it? ) so tall that a photo at tit level, you can’t see the top of the seed heads. … and I am a tall lady.
The chickens seem to be establishing camp well. Though, for the next lot, we’ll mow it down. Every good chicken loves freshly mowed grass.
And I cooked up the last sample from our BBQ box. We’re trying out another type of steak box to see how it scores on flavor and tenderness. We have tried every piece of meat that we raise. Scrutinising it. Adjusting our farming methods. Then, sampling again. It’s a slow process.
Brent and Otto moved the chooks for the second time today. The chickens are young, so they are still working out how to work the pasture. They are always on fresh grass for them to pull out the bugs and worms and nibble the alfalfa leaves.
Lovely day today, not too hot. Otto refreshes their water.
He likes to see how high he can raise the hose while still making it in the tank. I know I’ve set myself up for “boy jokes,” but he is very specific about his work.
The herd are fat fat. So much grass. They got so bored today, they did a little jog then hung out by the water cooler. I’m not a fan of a herd jog, but they settled in. It’s nice to see them work a paddock.
Let’s check. Hmmm. Almost there. Chooks are loving the pasture. So much food. Great sunny weather. A bit of rain, but that helps the grass grow. No complaints.
Lucy weighs the chicken, then weighs her body weight and does a bit a of math to capture the weight of the chook. Good information for us, but a bit of truth for her. S’okay, she’s feeling good about her fitness.
After a few years of photographing cows, it’s nice to lay on the ground and grab some bird shots.
The coop to pitch. Suddenly, the hinges started to unhitch.
Big winds here in France. We’ve done well with our moveable coop ( chicken tractor ) in the past, but these winds had the right approach with this construction. Normally, we have our meat chickens in there. Thankfully, they were not there. While we wait for the meat chicks to get big enough to put in the chicken tractor, we used it for our breed hens. And the “chief” as Zelie calls the cockerel.
Sadly we lost four hens to a predator and one hen to shock. When we found her, she looked like the Wicked Witch of the East. She was killed neatly and completely.