The weather is beautiful out here in Iowa right now. We just had a spell of rain, and where that is not good for the corn/soybean farmers it is very good for the graziers. I’m still out grazing cows and sheep, and can now start to really look back on the season and see the effects that grazing has had on the land. I’m amazed at how stimulated the grass was once it was grazed over for the first time in probably 15-20 years on the back 10 acres of our farm. That 10 acres was hayed off last year, and prior to grazing the cows it looked like it was starting to go downhill. I noticed “weeds” beginning to grow, and the spacing between grass plants widening. Once the cows were put on the pasture here in late August through September, the land has really come alive. I’ve noticed more little grass seedlings beginning to sprout, and there is a great layer of trampled grass that the soil microbes can begin to work into the ground.
Without addressing any scientific reason, I’m wondering if there is a relationship between animals and the land (of course there is!), in terms of the effects of grazing (especially mob-grazing) versus running equipment over to make hay. Obviously, making hay takes off fertility and without adding that back the land will revert to species that can live in a less-fertile environment. Cattle grazing will eat the grass and hopefully return the nutrients via manure and urine. If the grazing is planned right, most of the manure and urine will not have to be hauled back out on the field via a manure spreader.
We are getting ready for winter already, and there is stockpiled grass for the sheep over the winter. Last year I fed my sheep five small square bales of hay for the entire winter season, and only did that in the end because I felt sorry for them during a ice storm. This year I hopefully plan to not feed anything. I keep you posted.
Filed under: Uncategorized on September 29th, 2010