Growing Ponies and Plants
It's a change of pace at the Greet Ranch. We've gone from calving (except for a few stragglers) to moving cows out to spring pasture and now we are in full farming mode. Some of the cows are still eating hay waiting for the grass to get a little taller, but since most of the feeding is over we are using the extra time to look toward this year's hay crop. Before I get into that, I want to introduce a character to you.
This is Jackpot. He was a surprise out of a pony that we got for the kids last year. He's about 10 months old and has a huge personality in a very small package. He couldn't be "fence line" weaned because he was small enough to reach his head between the boards on the fence to eat momma's milk. So we moved him the the corral by my house.
This has given me a chance to work with him including a walk on the halter to see the kids the other day. After the walk and some green grass, he was feeling good and doing laps: running and bucking around the corral. He's ornery, but is doing really well with the kids.
As for the farming, Greet Ranch usually raises all the hay that it needs itself. Sometimes it's a bad hay year and we have to purchase a little extra and sometimes it's good and we have a little to sell. Mostly the hay is grass and alfalfa. We rotate fields that we farm and only do a few per year. We start by planting oats or winter wheat depending on the situation. The next year we use oats as a nurse crop with alfalfa. The oats and wheat is cut as hay. We used to harvest our own oats to feed to the heifers, but we have quit that over the last few years. As the stand of alfalfa ages over several years, native grasses move back in and the alfalfa goes away until it is straight grass hay and the rotation starts again. This gives us a variety of hay to feed throughout the winter.
Farming our fields gives them a boost in production. We get more hay from an alfalfa field than we do grass. A good alfalfa field can give us up to three cuttings of hay and the better grass fields give us two. Another benefit is smoothing the field. We only own one center pivot and the rest of the fields are flood irrigated. This means we need them to be as free of bumps and depressions as we can to keep them watering evenly. Over time, the topography of a field changes and by farming it we can restore it so that it irrigates well.
Hopefully, the weather will allow us to get our farming done quickly so we can move on to the next project. I hope all is going well with your projects. One more note: Will is out of the corral. He's motoring around on his knuckled over hooves enjoying a little more freedom. I will try to get a picture for next week.
by Brandon Greet