February 05, 2023

From the Barns: Eye on the sky

These are busy days here at River Oak as we prepare to host the Illinois Beef Association Summer Conference field day and Illinois Forage and Grassland Council forage expo. When you read this all will be over and we will have either lucked out with the weather or not. We have had more rain and more is in the forecast for next week. Hope we can have an easy decision day, where the results match the plan. Surprises are never much fun when it comes to hosting an event. I have always said we are proud to tour guests any day of the year, but for IBA and IFGC, we want to be extra ready.

We have finally reached a desired level of stocking for our pastures. It is just a bit late this year with the rain we have had and good forage growing conditions. We received 42 pairs on May 28, so we are presently grazing three groups, 77 cows — some have calves, but mainly fall calvers — on our fescue, 42 pairs on reed canary grass and 55 calves on fescue or reed canary grass and some supplementation.

We have had to be very vigilant in dealing with the rain events. It is difficult to increase density to a desired level with the ground too soft. It is also a challenge to use temporary fencing when grass heads are the same height or more than the line. So, doing the best we can and ending paddock grazing with quite a lot of trample and some close-down in spots with some seed heads still standing. Trying to follow with clipping of the remaining seed heads. We still have, as of June 3, 17 paddocks, not yet grazed. Doesn’t make me very happy.

As I said last month about the conference, so very happy with the decision to choose a grazing operation this year. Just hope we can work around the weather and tour. I have some valuable and different kind of information to share on each paddock we observe, including the grazing length and the density, resulting in what can be seen. If we can’t tour, my PowerPoint will cover those things, but seeing is always better.

One aspect of our preparations is that Carson is absent all week honeymooning, having been married on May 28. It has been a while since I ran the ranch alone, but you know I can still do it.

Well, the portable toilets are in place, so we hope we will have need of them. Thanks for reading. Stay safe and sane as you try and catch up with all your spring work.

Trevor Toland

Trevor Toland

Macomb, Ill.