Grazing Paddocks

It may not look like much to you, but to us this is a very important fence post. Maybe we should have spray painted it gold, or put some kind of plaque on it?

last posthold

This is the last post! Yes, at long last Rick and Alex finished all ten of the grazing paddocks on our new pasture. It was a huge project and took them twelve weeks, but they got it done!  It has been a long summer filled with fencing and more fencing.

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And in between fencing grazing paddocks there was hay season.

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Another long, hot project which has to be done as quickly as possible to get the hay cut, raked, baled and stacked under cover before it started raining. It was our first year to get hay from our own pasture and it went really well.

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We have stacks of fresh hay in the barn waiting for the cold winter weather. And then back to fencing grazing paddocks, which includes installing gates.

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Rick and Alex have had a lot of experience setting posts and installing gates so they will all close and latch on one post.

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That is important when you are setting up your paddocks so one person can move the herd. You close off the gate across the alley where you don’t want the cattle to go, open the gate to the new paddock and then open the gate on the paddock they are moving out of – have all those gates latched in place – and you can move them to fresh grass by yourself and just close the gate behind them. No chance of the cattle getting loose and easy for the humans too. Since there are only the three of us here, that is a good thing.

So now that the grazing paddocks are all fenced the guys must be laying on the couch watching NASCAR all day right? Not exactly. They have moved on to the next of the projects that have to be done before winter.

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This one involves water and electrical lines, big ditches and lots of rocks.

Hay Season

We interrupt fence building to bring you hay season. You’ve heard that phrase “Make hay while the sun shines” well it is probably true most places but it is certainly the way it goes around here. When the hay is ready and the sun is shining you drop everything else you are doing and make hay.

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Hay season is usually around the 4th of July and it is all-consuming because you have to get the hay cut, dried, baled and the bales in the barn before it rains again.  Hay is what our grass-fed beef eat in the winter months, so it is an important part of our operation.

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With our new acreage, we had some of our own grass for hay this year. Our friend Jeff cut it for us, then raked it .

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And baled the hay. I really have no idea how a hay baler works. It looks to me like they drive the tractor pulling the baler over the rows of hay, it rakes up the loose hay and squishes it all together, ties it with twine in two places and spits the bales out the back.

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It is possible there is a more technically correct explanation for the inner workings of a hay baler. I do know everyone I have ever known who has worked with one complains about how hard they are to get adjusted just right. Too tight, too loose or too something.

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Rick and Alex used our tractor and bale handler to gather up the bales in the field and stack them on the trailer.

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They pulled trailer loads to our place to put the hay in the barn for winter.

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The bale handler works to make the hay stacks in the barn too.

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Unlike some places where they get multiple cuttings of hay, here you usually get one per year – two if it is a really good year and you get rain and dry weather at just the right times.  And then we are done with hay for the year and can go back to . . . yep – building more fences.

New Pastures – Part 2

In addition to the fencing for the new grazing paddocks we have to install water troughs. The labor intensive way to water cattle is to drag a hose from place to place and fill up the trough. We have done plenty of that. This time Rick and Alex wanted to put in the labor and time up front to make it more efficient in the long run.

hooking up water line float

So they trenched two very long water lines across both sections of the paddocks and installed water lines. Then they stubbed up a line at each water trough and installed a float which refills the trough automatically as the cattle drink the water down.

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 It s a lot less time-consuming for us – after the system is all set up – and better for the cattle too as they always have a supply of fresh water.

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And then they were back to fencing. Alex is driving T posts.

driving T posts

 When all the brace posts have been cemented in and the T posts driven in and the clips installed, it is time to pull the wire. This wire spool holder keeps the spool in place as they pull the wire down the fence line. You can see the cattle waiting impatiently in the paddock they are ready to move off of behind the spool – but no pressure.

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 Way down at the end of the fence line you can just barely see Karla. She and Larry are the previous owners of the property that is now American Alps Ranch and they were here for a visit. They graciously helped us that day building fence. Karla took the hedge trimmers and did away with a lot of blackberry vines that were creeping into the new pasture. Sorry I didn’t get a better picture of you Karla!

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 Meanwhile Larry and Alex were putting together the pieces of the wire gate.

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The fresh grass in the new paddock.

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The fence is complete, the water trough is set and it is time to move the cattle onto the new pasture.

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The cattle are watching Larry unhook the wire gate.

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And then they are off to the new pasture.

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Out of the old . . . .

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. . . and into the new gate . . .

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. . . and onto the fresh grass.

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Larry closes the gate behind them and we are done – with this paddock anyway.

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