Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Turn 'em Out!

            Today’s the day we’ve been looking for since we started feeding hay five months ago: we turned the cows out to pasture!  For the next five months these cows are mostly on their own, doing what cows do best: converting grass which is nearly worthless into high quality beef.
            All winter long these cows are costing us money – about $1.65 per head per day just in feed.  And they also cost us the fuel and labor to carry that feed out to them every day.  During that time they are losing “condition": while their weight stays the same, they are giving up the summer’s body fat to give to the fetus growing inside them.
            Now out on this fresh green grass they are actually making us money!  The cows will start to lay on fat, and the calves are growing every day.  These calves will gain up to 3 pounds per day on grass – that commodity that you cut from your lawn all summer and throw away!
            Rather than utilizing petrochemicals to convert silicone into solar panels for the generation of electrical energy, we use grass to collect the solar energy directly, and convert that into the protein that fuels the activities of people.

            And then, after a brief interlude ahorseback moving the cows into their first summer pasture, it’s back to the mundane chores of ranching.
            The deluge of last week carried away vast amounts of soil from the main ranch road.  The culvert was washed out between the house and the shop.  It took most of the afternoon with the backhoe to bed a new culvert and transfer enough fill to allow direct access again to the shop.  There is still water running over the road to the house, and a rut that is five feet deep between the county road and the house; and we will repair the damage one... step... at a time.

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