September 21, 2023

From the Pastures: Back to school

We sure are getting a lot of wind farms in Illinois. I’ve been to one of two future wind farm meetings last week. The meeting was held in my old high school where I grew up. The wind farm that was put up three years ago up there stopped at the road that borders my property on the south side and this new one stops one mile to the west of the same property. I just can’t seem to get lucky enough to get a wind turbine.

But I did get to visit with several guys I went to school with, 50 years ago. Some things have changed, like a new school addition, but the old school is pretty much the same like the shop and ag classroom.

I started unrolling the good hay on the pasture to feed my flock. This works better than bale rings because all the sheep can eat at the same time without fighting for space. Also it spreads out the manure and urine over the area I want it on and not just around the bale ring. What they leave behind, which is not much, covers the ground with litter to conserve soil moisture, protect the soil from the wind and sun, feed the soil microorganisms and add carbon as organic matter to the soil.

I also have unrolled several bad hay bales over the walkways the sheep make from their feed in the field up to the water tank. I also unrolled this bad hay, that has been stored outside for four to five years, across any bare areas in my permanent pasture. I’m hoping to reseed these bare spots with the old hay and give the ground some “ground armor” as Gabe Brown calls it.

The sheep are also able to eat any good hay that is in these bales without having to eat the bad hay to get to the good hay. It’s amazing how much good hay was in those bales. The guard dogs and sheep love lying on the old hay because it’s dry and warm. Their hooves and feet spread the hay for me also. This “worthless hay” is feeding my below-ground livestock and hopefully this spring and summer I’ll see the rewards in more grass and thicker grass.

Try to stay warm. Spring is less than 40 days away.

Elton Mau

Elton Mau

Arrowsmith, Ill.