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I am feeling very nicely caught-up lately. On Sunday, I weighed all the lambs and also vaccinated them. Today after work, I mowed the chicken pen with the tractor. I love how neat and tidy it looks when the grass is short and the fencing is straight and taught. The chickens will enjoy the overturned goodies and new grass growth. You can see how tall the surrounding grass is already. In April, I was hand-wringing about too little forage for grazing when the ewes started lambing. Now, there is too much and it’s starting to seed out. It’s early for this, but the grass is likely somewhat stressed from a drought-ey May, so it decided to push out seed heads already. I’m not thrilled that the sheep are grazing stage III growth, but I’m also reluctant to cut any of it, lest we have more drought and this is my stockpile for the summer. So I’m working with it and the sheep are eating it, though I’m sure it’s not their favorite. It is so challenging to manage the timing of grazing just right.

Mowing

Since it was nice out and I was already on the tractor, I got started cutting the stemmy far pasture, which the sheep just finished grazing last week. It’s critical to get those stems cut down to encourage new growth. Grass, just like trees, exhibits apical dominance. If those tall stems are left, they will signal the horizontal tillers in the rest of the plant to slow down growth. Especially in Reed Canarygrass, it results in bamboo-like growth, with stunted little stubs of leaves spurting from the main stem. Like this:

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If I cut it all now, the plants will be stimulated to re-grow from the crown, and will produce much more leafy volume, providing better forage for when the sheep return here in another six weeks or so.  Thankfully, cutting this stemmy stuff is quick work on the tractor, I can drive fast when there isn’t much volume to chop. 2-3 hours in this field should do it. After a day of meetings, email, deadlines and office politics, there is nothing better than zoning out on the tractor to wrap up the day. I will try to finish tomorrow to beat the Friday rain forecast.

And, just for fun, a wild rabbit kit; one of a population boom that’s also enjoying the cut grass on the farm. One day a litter emerged from under our woodpile, and for a few hours, were naively unafraid of people. In that fleeting time window, I happened to have a mother and daughter visit to look at some sheep. The little girl was already enamored by the experience of holding bottle lambs, walking the sheep pasture, and pondering chicken ownership and egg-gathering Then, as they were leaving, we walked right by these guys just sitting there in the grass. I was able to pick one up and let the little girl hold it for a moment. She was over the moon, and ready to go home and make the sales pitch to her dad about farm life. 😀  Hopefully these bunnies’ flight response kicked in before nightfall, when the owls get busy. They sure are cute lil’ buggers.

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