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Friday
Nov182016

Leasing land for our cattle

It has been an exceptionally beautiful fall, full of nice weather and adequate rainfall. This had made our pastures look especially good as they begin preparations to head into winter.  We want a nice, healthy stand of thick grass going into winter because that ensures we have great grass coming into Spring.  

One of the ways we ensure this is making sure all our pastures get the rest they need to recover from their previous grazing.  In our rotational grazing system, the ground has a high degree of impact for a very short amount of time.  For cattle, this means they are only on any one particular piece of land for one day before being moved to the next pasture.  After one day of heavy impact, the ground then recovers for anywhere from 30 - 180 days before once again having one day of impact.  This form of grazing mimics nature and how grasslands were created with the gigantic herds of migrating bison.   They would come through an area, eat it down and plow it up with their hooves - but then move on.  This periodic disturbance followed by time to rest creates robust and healthy ecosystems.  

As our cattle herd continues to grow every year, we have begun utilizing pastures around us.  It has been so good to find pastures around us that have been untreated and unused for many years and begin to heal them simply with the power of naturally managed grazing.  We can then lease this land from our neighbors -- giving previously unused land some real value for land they were not utilizing.  There is a fair amount of work involved in moving cattle around to these different pastures, however.    Today was one of those days.  We needed to gather all of the cattle which were in one pasture about 10 miles away, load them in a trailer and then move them to a new pasture that is directly across the road from our farm.  

To gather the cattle, first, we have to construct a temporary corral.  



This is where lots of great pictures would go of the rest of the process.  But...as often happens, once the work actually starts, I don't have the presence of mind to pull out my camera.  

So - I'll be brief in my wordy description.  After we put these panels together into a corral, we then bring the cattle into the corral, back the trailer up to the corral and coax the cattle to enter the trailer in an orderly fashion.  Sometimes they go in really easily, other times they require lots of patience and persuasion.  Our trailer can hold 10 - 12 cattle -- so it takes a few loads to transport the whole herd.  Moving the cattle is usually an all-day affair and today was no different.

The land they are grazing on now has not been grazed or used for anything for several years.  Previously it was CRP grass.  CRP is a government program that pays landowners money to allow land to stay fallow for several years.  This program is losing popularity and most farms, like our neighbors, are no longer part of the program.  They now have land that has been essentially not touched for the last 10 years.  I am very excited to see how it reacts to some grazing.  The grass there will be nutritious and delicious for the cattle.  Our plan is they will be on this pasture for several weeks before moving across the street back to our home farm.  Once back on our farm, we will need to start feeding hay as winter will be in full swing.  

Leasing neighbors land and turning into rich, productive, healthy organically managed pastures is just one way your support as a customer is slowly changing the world acre by acre.  By choosing to spend your food dollars on agriculture that supports the world you want your children to grow up in, you are radically affecting the future in a way much more effective and profound than any other form of radical protest.   

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Synergistic Acres - 21733 Iliff Rd, Parker, KS 66072 - 913-735-4769
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