Friday, April 8, 2011

Cows on grass and gardening

We moved the cows out of the barn and back onto grass this week. They seem happy, and our milk production has gone up. 025I’ve provided them with some hay to make sure they have enough roughage as they transition back onto green stuff, and they are doing well.

After I moved the cows out, I started cleaning out the barn. They were in the barn for four months. I used straw and saw dust for bedding while they were there, giving them fresh bedding every day and letting it accumulate during the entire four months. 028Two full grown cows and two young steers can make a lot of manure mixed with bedding in four months time.

I used the Bobcat to start cleaning it out. The way the barn is set up, I can only get the Bobcat straight in from outside and clean a pathway across the cows’ area inside. There isn’t room to turn and clean out the rest mechanically. We’ll have to clean out the other 80% by hand, or at least loosen it and throw it into the middle so it can be moved out with the Bobcat. We’ll complete this work over the next couple of weeks, I hope.

On other blogs, I’ve read about people starting their garden plants inside over the last couple of months, 015but I didn’t get any of starts going until yesterday. I have no place inside our current home for starting seeds. In the past I’ve started seeds in the basement of a previous home under grow lights or in a greenhouse. I don’t want to use the power to keep a grow light on with our electrical system now even if I had the space/place inside for it.

Without a place for starting seeds and with the length of our growing season, I’ve not worried about having not started my seeds yet. So, yesterday, 014I mixed together some growing medium (one part compost, one part peat moss, and one part rich dirt) and planted some seeds: tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. I put them in some flats I had from last year and set them under a makeshift greenhouse.

The makeshift greenhouse is a metal framework with plastic stretched over it. When I checked it a couple of times today, it was nice and warm and moist inside. I think with the warm weather we’re having, the seeds should sprout fairly quickly. I don’t plan on setting plants out until mid-May. So, if all goes well, they should be ready by then.

Then, today, the boys and I planted some things in the garden. First, I worked up an area about 30 feet by 30 feet. 020Using my grape hoe (an wonderful tool), I pulled dirt into four ridges. I filled the trenches left from pulling the dirt together into ridges with wood chips about 6 inches or so deep. This makes nice walkways with material that will break down over time, feeding the worms and adding to the soil. Then, I smoothed the tops of the ridges with a rake, making rows about 18 to 20 inches wide for planting.

This afternoon, we planted several varieties of lettuce, spinach, beets, swiss chard, and carrots in these wide rows. 023We also planted several rows of sugar snap peas in another area right beside the first one. We’ll be planting a lot more things in the coming weeks.

I had an interesting experience while using the Bobcat to the wood chips from the big pile to the garden: a wheel fell off. Apparently, the lug bolts had come loose, they worked themselves out. I hadn’t noticed this was happening. As I made a turn to head into the garden, the wheel fell off, and the Bobcat sat down on its haunches. I found three of the bolts and borrowed one from each of the other wheels to reattach it before continuing with the work.

After finishing the planting, the children and I went for a swim in the pond. It was a bit cool, but we all enjoyed it.


Ann from KY

You need to get your cows a Mol-Mag block. This is a block with magnisium and other minerals in it. It keeps the cows from getting "grass tetany" from the new grass after spending the winter on hay. actually, earlier in the year like Feb. is better to start with them. Have you been giving them to your cows? Sweetlix makes one.

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