grass farming


   Good heavens, we are already running short on pasture dry enough to put Isabel and Bridget out on.  There is room up on top still — the narrow shelf of cleared land just below the tree line — and we suppose we will move them up there for the time being.  If only the sun would come out, and it would warm up!  Now that the year-old steers are on pasture in Cadiz, we will be able to turn the dairy cow and the mini onto the west hill clearing, but this is its first year as pasture, really, since up until this winter it was mostly wooded.  The grass is coming in nicely, but it can’t be expected to provide many cow days of fodder this summer.  Grazing up there will be of benefit mostly because it will tighten up the turf, and spread manure and urea where they will do some good.  It won’t make a big difference in our grazing rotation.

   This is the time of year when graziers worry they won’t have enough grass, we are told.  One of the times.  Soon, God willing, the sun will shine down on  our sodden acres (when will this rain stop?) and the grass, with ample moisture, and all the fertility (graziers around here use this as a concrete noun) the animals have spread on it this winter, will start growing like the dickens.  Let’s hope it’s soon.

   The chickens are laying their little hearts out, and we are having to sell eggs, which goes against Mother’s principles.  Not that selling surplus is bad, but can there ever really be surplus of eggs?  When winter comes again we’ll be wishing for the eggs so casually exchanged in May for mere money.  However, the dairy refrigerator (that second-hand appliance that only goes down to forty degrees, just right for apples, cabbages, and cheeses) is just about as crammed with egg cartons as it is possible for it to be and still  leave room for six gallons of milk a day, which is what Isabel is giving right now — not bad for an eight- or nine-year old cow at the end of a lactation.  So, we sell eggs. 


The three five-month old hogs go to market tomorrow morning.  They will be loaded into the stock trailer right after breakfast, washed down, probably cursorily, and hauled to the butcher.  As we’ve said before, we butch our own hogs in January, but have never had any in May before, and have no means of cooling the carcasses while they hang.  So we are having them done commercially this time, since the one we sell has to be done that way in any case.  The sale of that pig will pay for the raising and butchering of our own as well.

   S-4 won’t mind the cessation of that little chore.  He was at first, and for some time, happy to see to the feeding and housekeeping for our three piggie pals, and even took language lessons from them which he has since put to frequent and expressive use; but as our porkers have grown in size and vehemence, feeding them has lost its charms.  They are not aggressive — unless you are a potato or a stale breadroll — but they are large and powerful and vitally interested in any little matters of the table.  In order to give them their food, S-4 has first to drive them back from the pig fence and use a broken hoe handle to hook out the feeding pans.  He has, of necessity, developed a series of ruses and dodges to get his charges to look the other way so that he can drop the full troughs into the pen without having them overturned by big pink buldozers before they reach the ground.  And the pigs are no fun to clean up after.  The new pig pen, when it is built, and the new barn around it, will, we hope, be designed to alleviate some of these difficulties.  In the meantime, as we say, S-4 will be glad of a break.  He is rather vindictively looking forward to his first slice of sugar-cured black pepper bacon.

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