February 01, 2023

From the Barns: New way of thinking

The winter enveloped us for a bit in December, but we were prepared and worked through without major problems. The worst for me actually occurred inside when my steam boiler busted the sight glass and filled the house with steam and no technician was available for 36 hours. I draped the steam leak with towels and refilled the boiler with water every two hours to avoid automatic shutoff and no heat during the extreme temperatures outside. The good thing was I was at home and not already away for one of the holiday visits.

The cattle seemed to have fared OK through the cold and snow and our winter stockpile is holding up well. We have had some pugging from the rain and melting snow, but have been able to continue the rotation without interruption. Carson’s bred cows will go home to calve next week where they can be observed more closely. The fall calver pairs will complete the winter stock pile graze in the coming weeks. Then all the focus here will be to get the frost seeding done and an area of drilling, as well, if possible. I have the Great Plains NT drill already hooked on and ready to go.

The other things we like to do every winter is cut, gather up and burn brush and weed trees. After years of work we are very nearly clean of pasture brush and weed trees, but now we are starting to concentrate on the woods side of some of our pasture fences. We would like to maintain a 10- to 12-foot strip down that woods side so we can easily mow and maintain fencing that borders our woods areas.

Carson runs his JD tracked skidsteer and we also hire Two Rivers Tree and Brush, Adam Lucie, with his Bobcat to have a professional on hand when the going gets really tough. An added burden over the next few years will be the removal of all the dead ash trees that are being left in the wake of the emerald ash borer. Many homeowners are dealing with that, as well as our cities, where the ash were a popular fast-growing shade tree.

There is still time to make one of the winter grazing conferences. Keep on the watch for one near you and stimulate your continued grazing improvements. With the good cattle markets ahead, it is ever more important to be sound and efficient in our grazing management.

Make even more of an emphasis on increasing production per acre of grazing, as opposed to only focusing on production per animal. I dare to say it, but we sure need to think like a grain farmer, only about our pastures, and concentrate much more on production per acre. Land is expensive to own these days, so we need to concentrate on making as much profit from a grazing acre as possible.

Where did December go? There is always an easy answer. For me, it was to see all three daughters and their families in San Diego, Milwaukee and Rockford. The visits were good and memories abound, as well as plans for more visits, which might include my 80th birthday next year. I hope you all had those visits and special moments with family and friends. Take special care as we work our way through the winter months. Stay safe and sane!

Trevor Toland

Trevor Toland

Macomb, Ill.