Megan and I loaded up the horses on Sunday after church and headed down to the pasture to ride. I needed to look at our grass to see if it was ready to graze cattle on yet, and my little cowgirl is always game to take the boys for a ride. While most of the cattle that we have are finished in our feed yard, we do graze grass with some of our animals during the growing season.
Megan and her boy, Magnum...
As you can tell, the grass is starting to green up. We typically turn cattle out to graze on our grass pasture the 10th of April. I am a little bit concerned this year that the grass is not growing very fast because we have not had much rain. As we rode the pastures, I hoped for rain!
Searching for grass...
We did a lot of work down at the pasture this spring putting up new fences and additional water tanks that will allow us to more efficiently graze our acres of pasture. Megan and I checked out the new water tank system and cross fences as we looked at the grass.
It was hot on Sunday, and as we looked at one of the new water tanks, Dandy (my horse) wished that we had already turned the water on so that he could get a drink!
Cattle tend to graze the grass near the water tanks pretty heavily but not utilize the acres of grass that are far away from the water source. By placing more water tanks at our pasture and making the paddocks (sections) of grass pastures smaller through the use of cross fences, we will be able to ensure that none of the grass is wasted.
This is our original water source at the pasture. The well that supplies the water is inside the little building. This spring, we buried pipe under the ground out to two other water tanks and divided up the big paddocks into smaller grazing sections.
We placed a cross fence down the middle line of the water tanks so that we could utilize the water source on two different grazing sections of grass.
You can see the fence going along the middle of this new water tank. We can utilize this water source while grazing two different paddocks...
We use a three strand electric fence for cross fences to divide up our different grazing paddocks. We use this type of fence because it is easy to maintain and very effective for keeping the cattle in the appropriate paddock.
If you look closely, you will see a Western Meadowlark sitting on the cross fence. Hats off to Ms. Cosner, Megan's 4th grade teacher, because Megan not only immediately recognized the bird but could also tell me all about this wonderful creature that is Nebraska's State Bird. This little guy sang us quite a tune as we rode past...
We now have six different grazing paddocks on our pasture land that we will rotationally graze from the middle of April to the middle of June; and then again from the middle of August to the middle of October. Our grass is predominantly cool season grass so it grows well in the spring and fall, but needs a rest from grazing in the heat of the summer when it does not grow well.
This particular paddock has some old growth of dead grass left over from last fall. I was disappointed in the amount of new growth of green grass underneath the old grass. We need some rain to get the grass growing!
While it is certainly true that I needed to search for grass down at the pasture to ensure that I had enough for my cattle to eat before I moved them down to the pasture— it is also true that I love to use experiences like this to teach Megan about both Mother Nature and her horse. She is an inherent problem solver and when it is “crunch time”, she always delivers. I can count on her to remain calm and follow directions when I need her to, and that is a wonderful life tool. While some of this has to do with her genetics, much of it comes from learning how to care for animals and growing up on a farm.
Megan takes care of her own tack--and saddles, unsaddles, and loads Magnum on and off the trailer by herself. This teaches her responsibility and leadership...
She also does fun chores like cleaning out the horse trailer which teaches her how to roll up her sleeves and go to work!
I had a wonderful few hours with my favorite little cowgirl. Teaching her and spending time with her brings into perspective why I work so hard to take care of my farm and raise healthy beef. She is the next generation and it brings me great joy to watch her learn how to care for our land and our animals.
Did I mention that my favorite little cowgirl turned 10 last week?