Wednesday, March 25, the Annunciation:
All winter we’ve held the lactating cows up front on the better forage, while the dry cows, heifers and yearlings cleaned up out back on the paddocks farthest from the dairy, and therefore the longest walk for the milkers. Monday morning we ran all the cows up to the front of the farm and put them in one paddock, where the the sixteen of them actually look like a respectable herd. They are pastured now on what we would call a sacrifice paddock, an area where we are going to create a lot of impact, more than we would want in a regular rotation. There are two reasons for this choice: one is so that the last of the stockpiled forage will be held in abeyance until green-up, so that the first spring paddocks will still contain some brown, high-carbon stuff to slow down the passage of new green grass through the cows’ gut. The second reason for hitting this paddock hard is that this corner of the front pasture is only lately reclaimed from the jungle. Last fall when we ran the cows over that paddock there was a lot of good grass they missed under the briars and cane, because they wouldn’t shove their faces in among the thorns to graze. Feeding hay on that paddock now, with four-times-sixteen that’s sixty-four hooves cutting into the soil, we’ll disadvantage the cane before green-up, as well as adding lots of good organic matter, some biological activity, and whatever grass seeds spills from the hay or makes it unscathed through the cows’ digestive systems. Coming up on calving we don’t want too much protein in the dry cows, anyway, so this is a win-win: good nutrition now, better grazing later.