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From the Barns: How to stay safe

Trusting you all are following the COVID protocols and staying safe. As numbers rise and fall, there is somewhat a mysterious element to all of this. Some infected can’t explain their exposure, while others are linked to an event that proved costly. Some state that this is just a large hoax perpetrated on the American people, designed to make us frustrated and weak. Others say it is similar to the seasonal flu. Still others say it is their right to do as they please, including no mask and no precautions. For me, I still believe in our medical personnel, who are asking us over and over to take precautions.

We are taking every precaution and venturing up to Door County to see some color and relax a bit next week. We are looking forward to stopping at the homes of our daughters in Rockford, Illinois, and Milwaukee, as well. I am sure we will be amazed at the crop progress when we return. Most are going at it real good as I write. Here at River Oak, the stockpiled fescue and clover is growing well and has been spurred by some good showers, although we are still very much on the dry side. The remaining heifers, a few have been sold, are working their way through the reeds canary grass paddocks. We are using temporary fencing to give them about 3 to 4 acres per day for 110 head.

After grazing, the remaining grass is about 4 to 6 inches and looks like a mower has been used. Just another thing that makes me happy. The paddocks that include a levee do have some small brush that I have not removed yet. The two times I have started to cut, I have been met with bees from ground nests under bushes and I don’t work very well with that. So, that task is on hold until cooler weather. Here’s hoping the corn will come out soon enough to graze residue and then move to the stockpile for winter grazing.

The new south 20 is all set to complete when I return from Wisconsin. I have all materials lined up or purchased and the contractors scheduled. Here is hoping that the gravel road on geotextile, the Cobett cattle waterer, heavy use area, waterline, well pump and buried pressure tank, two dry dams, some tiling and all the interior fences are all complete by the time I write to you again next month. I am sure that will never happen without some issues, but hopefully the planning and the professional help at Natural Resources Conservation Service will smooth things.

I am consulting on the fencing and grazing for the Western Illinois University grant funded research project to develop grazing efficiency with row cropping and a small grain, Kernza, a grass and wheat cross. WIU’s Kerr Farm affords four 4-acre plots to accommodate the project. The cow grazing will require both semi-permanent and temporary fencing. This will be a challenging project for Drs. Mark Bernards and Keela Trennepohl and staff, but promises some interesting outcomes.

I spent 45 minutes on a conference call this morning about the Heart of America Grazing Conference being planned for March 2 in Mount Vernon. It is shaping up to be a tremendous event with a list of really great speakers. Watch for announcements coming out next month. It will be a rare opportunity to hear them all in a single day.

Macomb, Ill.

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