All of our animals, other than the piglets in the training area, are back on pasture by now, and the pace of the season has sped up to match that change. Now that we’re grazing full time, now that we’ve cut the connection to the barn, the constant movement of the animals across the farm landscape sets the rhythm of each day, and each week. The time frame has been condensed down to the day, the need is immediate, and the whole grazing infrastructure has to be ready to accommodate animals now, because now they are in relentless motion.
In the fall we prepare the winter chicken coop to house the laying flock for six months, and then move the birds in and maintain and service the space through that time. With the layers on the move in the egg-mobile, the time frame has been shrunk down to a week, and we need to be ready and available to relocate and re-establish the chickens over and over again through the summer. The beef herd moves every afternoon, the dairy herd moves morning and afternoon, the layers move once or twice per week, and the sheep move every five days. I’ll spend most of the rest of the next six months making sure that we’re setup and ready for the next move, whichever group of animals is next.
We’ve had another stretch of cool rainy weather this week, and while that has been great again for the pastures (‘A cold wet May means a barn full of hay.’), Alex and his veggie work have had another frustrating spell. They got a little window to work in the fields Wednesday and Thursday, and really tried to make the most of that stretch to get veggie starts and seeds into the ground, but we got more than an inch of rain Friday into Saturday, and that is going to make bed preparation challenging again next week. If we can’t cultivate and prep beds, we can’t plant starts and seeds in the beds, so we really need to soil to get dry enough for cultivation for the whole process to get started. As the guy monitoring and
managing the pastures however, I love the rainy weather, and it sets the stage for strong pasture growth for the coming months. Water is the single most significant determiner of our pasture growth, and so far this spring has been just about perfect for growing grass.
We have chicks in the new brooder at Maggie’s Farm, turning what was a beautiful, but empty space, into a peeping rollicking good time. Lots of farmers were making noises about moving into the brooder for the summer, but luckily we got some chicks in there before anyone packed up and made the move. This first batch of chicks is our broiler group for the summer, and they’ll move into movable pasture pens in a few weeks, and spend the summer scratching and pecking their way through the sheep pasture for before processing in July. The layer chicks come in a month, and they’ll go into the brooder once the broilers have moved out and the place has been cleaned and setup again. We made more good progress on the layer pullet’s new mobile house, and I’ll update you on that project next week!