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From the Barns — Toland: Early grazing warning

Macomb, Ill.

March has come in like a lamb, so does it go out like a lion? I have seen some research and a book — “A January Fog will Freeze a Hog” by Hubert J. Davis — that explains how some of the old-time sayings and folklore about weather were right and could be accurate scientifically. I imagine that without our many weather sources today, we would become more accurate with our very own predictions based on personal observation. Mostly, we just need to work through all our changes and challenges and have some fun with all the weather cussin’ and discussin’.

We spent two weeks in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and had some disappointment with the cool temperatures and winds. My photo of the boardwalk to the beach with the red flag flying for riptide warning pretty much sums up the weather there. We did enjoy the downtime and were able to read several books, something we usually don’t seem to have time for. We are grateful that our stay in Nashville, Tennessee, on the return trip was Saturday night, Feb. 29, not Monday night, March 2, when tornadoes ripped through the region.

There was much to do when we arrived back here at River Oak, and we relished being able to get out there and continue some projects. I am feeling a bit left out from the hustle with calving and late spring feeding. I do keep an eye on the group of lead cows here. There is one early calf, the rest being April and May calvers.

We were able to complete the machine work on all the fencerows in the new South 20 before we left for the south. Several days of chainsaw work ended in a snowstorm the day before we left. We got a lot done, especially those days when three saws were working and Adam Lucie was moving and stacking and burning with his Bobcat. My neighbor, Mike, removed all the large burnables for his outside wood burner. We are hoping it is dry enough to seed some parts before the next rains, maybe March 7 or 8.

In our travels, we saw a lot of cattle on pasture. Perhaps some of them were being supplemented, but that was difficult to see. The concern with that scenario is that the cattle being out there too early are severely damaging those pastures. I know winter feed is expensive and in short supply, but allowing cattle on early short pasture growth is bad practice.

Grass should be 6 to 8 inches and the ground solid before turnout. Then move rapidly in a rotation to keep up with rapid growth. Take less than half of the growth and move on. You will be back there in your rotation when that grass is more mature and not subject to damage from overgrazing. Cattle being allowed to wander out on grass now and bite down to the ground the first sign of green is a killing practice. The best practice, if dry space for calving is needed, is to designate a “sacrifice pasture” and then reseed and give an extended rest to that area when cattle are removed, all the while protecting the rest of your pastures. Have a great March and have patience with the grass.

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