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Posts Tagged ‘making hay’

Summer in Full Swing

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Summer on the ranch doesn’t differ too much from year to year. Really the only thing that changes is the amount of rainfall. Other than that, most things are unchanged. The heat is a dependable presence. Summers in Texas are hot and the temperatures have really begun to soar. These high temps combined with high humidity make for an awesome day. You step out of your nice air-conditioned home into an oven, and your body immediately begins perspiring.

This year in particular we have enjoyed nice rains. Therefore, we have more grass than ever. Not bad when you are in the grass fed business. Recently we had our first hay cut. We asked for round bales only. These are easier to feed a herd of cattle in the winter. We now have all the hay out of the field and stored for colder days.

The higher temperatures of summer mean that warmer water temperatures. We don’t have a swimming pool, but we do have several ponds. My children, especially the boys, love to jump in the water in an attempt to cool off. The cows do too, especially the Devons. Well, they don’t jump in, but they do like to stand mid-belly deep in the cool waters. Summertime means finding ways to cool off for both humans and animals.

Gardening is also in its prime time. Vegetables are ripening at lightning speed. We are getting to enjoy the fruit of our labor. Summertime is usually filled with putting up our produce and giving away our excess.

Summers are also a time filled with camps, fun outings, and trips. We like to spend time with our children enjoying this season together. From backyard barbecues to family floating trips, we seize time to spend with family and friends.

This is what summertime looks like at Cross Creek Cattle Company. We are busy doing both hard work and having family fun. We are truly enjoying the sunshine and cool waters. The smell of fresh cut hay fills the air. As I breathe in deeply, I know summer is in full swing.

Belly Deep in Grass

Thursday, June 20th, 2013
The herd walking into a new field.

The herd walking into a new field.

Pasture rotation plays a critical role in our grass fed beef business. Throughout the years of drought prior to this year, we have struggled to rotate more often and keep the cattle on grass. We had to supplement with hay and alfalfa cubes in order to keep our business going.

Well this year we are on the flip side. Even though technically we are still in drought conditions. In fact according to the US Drought Monitor, we are in a moderate drought. However, you cannot tell it based on the condition of our pastures. We are belly deep in tall, lush green grasses, including our cattle.

After we let the herd in this pasture, we realized how deep and thick the grass is growing. My husband contacted a local hay maker. He asked my husband what we had done to get grass like this. Lane answered, “Well, two years ago we shallow disked the land for aeration purposes and spread composted manure over the ground.”

The hay man replied, “Huh?! Well whatever you did, it worked. You don’t see pastures like this everyday.”

If you notice, there is not only very green, very tall, and very thick grass, but notice what is not in the field–weeds. The grass is choking out the weeds naturally without chemicals or sprays.

If you watched our interview with Dr. Ward Bond for his show, Think Natural, then this is the very same pasture in which they filmed our herd. THere is a stark difference. It is amazing what careful pasture management and a little rain can do.

We moved the cattle off this field after a day of grazing to another similar one and decided to make hay while the sun was shining. The square bales off this pasture will be used mainly for our horses.

Coincidentally, my mom is traveling the country right now. She told me how intensely dry some parts of New Mexico and Colorado are right now. She told of whole herds standing on fields of dirt without any blades of grass. I thanked her for bringing this to my attention. We might be enjoying times of feast, but others are in times of famine. We have been there; we know how hard it is. Please join us in praying for the farmers and ranchers in the drought-stricken parts of the United States.

Hay Time

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Cutting hay on the new ranch.

Cutting hay on the new ranch.

For any rancher, the summer is when you focus on storing up food for your cattle during the winter months. It is a time to make hay or purchase it.
Hay is simply dried grass that is baled either in rounds or in squares. During the winter when grass lies dormant, your cattle can still get the benefits of grass by eating hay. You simply cut the grass while it is at its peak, allow it to dry completely, and bale.
Hay requires a pasture of good grasses and dry weather. The last thing you want is for your cut grass to get rained on because the grass will mold. Hay making is farming; you are at the mercy of the weather.
We have not cut hay on our ranch for years. It has been more economical to purchase hay. However after last year’s drought and the fact that the price for hay soared to astronomical heights coupled with the fact that we have been greatly blessed with rain and grass this year, we decided to cut three hay fields on our new ranch.
Farming is always a gamble. You have to watch the weather, keep your eye on your fields, and act in faith. We have finished cutting the grass. It is drying out quickly in this summer heat. Tomorrow we will start baling the hay as long as the weather holds.
Hay is an important part of our grass fed business. It saved the ranch last year when our pastures burned up in the most severe drought on record. During even a mild winter, hay is a staple in our herd’s diet. Since we do not feed grain of any kind to our cattle, dried grasses are their food in the winter.
We are excited to be in this position. Making our own hay illustrates that we have turned a corner in a sense. This year has been completely different than last year. And for that, we are truly thankful.

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