Glen-ellen Shepherds-notes

Shepherd note: Oct 10, 2014

The cattle have been in the orchard since Monday. They began in the strip with the figs. They seemed to be much more interested in the figs then they were in the growing season. They ate a few leaves in the beginning, but then focused on the grass. I had them in that strip for 24 hours and in the last 3 hours or so they went after the fig leaves with much more focus leaving on average maybe 30% of the foliage on the trees. Next time we might need to get them in and out faster in the non growing season. It will be interesting to see how the figs respond to a vigorous pruning. In the next strip the cattle are doing fine. I have been working the dogs with them. I have realized it is much easier for me to train one dog at a time then two. Buddy id coming along very well when worked by himself. He actually listens better then Elle. The electric fences create barriers for the cattle to get pinned against which can make it hard to train the dogs properly as the dogs often do not want to get out around the outside and underneath the fence. The taller ungrazed portions are harder to get at for them. However buddy will go out in the ungrazed area much more willingly then Elle. Either way it is fun all around. There is a lot of material in the orchard and it is fun to use the dogs to get it broken up and on the ground.

Shepherd note: Oct 01, 2014

The cattle have been moseying along in the paddock next to the orchard. We originally estimated the paddock at having 30 animal days per acre and it has almost 40 animal days per acre. It looks like we will have enough grass to keep them here until near the End of October. They have been calm and had good movement. We have been letting them eat half and then trample half. We have been using the dogs to get impact and that has been going pretty well. After working with the dogs we make sure to take the stress off them by pressuring and releasing, bud williams stockmanship style. We got a few little drizzels over the last week, but nothing over a quarter of an inch, however every little bit helps. We have been using a two wire system due to the failure of the one wire system at Petaluma. We haven’t had one animal get out with the two wire system. Once the gear is all set up for two wire it only takes make ~ 25% longer to set up. The cattle have been eating star thistle and there are some pictures in the post of them doing just that. The two pictures on the right are of that occurrence. There is quite a bit of star thistle in the southern boundary of the paddock they are in next to the road. We will have to keep an eye on it to see how their impact effects that patch.

Shepherd note: Sep 18, 2014

Shepherds Notes September 18th

Glen Ellen: Well we received cattle yesterday September 17th at our Glen Ellen Management location. We received 36 head weighing in at 44,000 pounds. So we have about 44 animal units. We estimated a few days ago that we have around 1400 animal days on the property. So with 44 AU’s we should have the cattle around 31 days. Yesterday when we set up the corrals for receiving we squared up all pen angles to try and facilitate better movement for the cattle in the pens. We did this after having gone to a stockmanship workshop with Tina Williams down in Pescadero. All their working pens had right angles and we decided that we could square up our pens a little better. This seemed to have a great effect on the movement of the cattle.

The cattle overall were pretty calm on arrival. We settled them down even further in the pens before we worked them. We pretty much got through the weighing without incident however our alley and scale platform still leave something to be desired. We hope to improve that situation this off season. When I arrived this morning the cattle had consumed just about what we expected them to or at a rate of 30 animal days per acre in pasture 5. We will have to see as the cattle often eat a lot in the first 24 hours and then slow down as they become full after compensating for the losses they incur in calories when traveling. It rained maybe 1/10th of an inch last night and this morning as well, which was truly appreciated. We will take whatever we can get. It was nice to smell the moisture on the landscape.

Shepherd note: May 01, 2014

Middle meadow is ready to be grazed again and I kinda wish we had the cattle here to do i, just to see what would happent. Lots of leaves on the harding grass. the natives are all going to seed, full of purple vetch flowers. things are still green but they have lightened up a bunch. But on the other hand, we would still have a bunch of seed heads to contend with so, we’ll see.

Shepherd note: Apr 21, 2014

Shipped out of glen ellen. It went pretty smooth. I should have moved the corral about eight feet back for loading. The cattle were calm and we didn’t have many problems. They averaged 2.85 pounds per day it seems. I’m happy with that. It is the very best time of the year and the cattle came in in bad condition so those numbers are probably inflated some, although they were also in the drylot eating crappy hay for three days and I did make them do some work while they were here. Grazed bucks, but it was the last day so there was a lot left. Still it was good to knock down the tall stuff and that sort of thing. The big question going forward is whether I fucked up the front meadow by grazing it or the middle meadow by not grazing it. Probably one or the other is not optimum, though with the trials last year I was left with the impression that there is quite a bit of latitude on that question. Ideally I would have come back in a couple weeks but, that isn’t going to happen. the downside of doing it this way on a small property. At the moment the middle meadow looks really good. lots of vetch in flower. the elymus and the b. carinatus have all gone to inflor. the harding grass has about two leaves, the tall fescue has hardly done anything.

Shepherd note: Apr 20, 2014

Moved into bucks today. wishing they would get through the grass faster. Higher density, quicker moves in the tongue of the front meadow, see if there is a difference. Just hoping they knock the grass down in bucks, theres too much for them to eat it all. He has brodeas up there I don’t see any on our property,, planted with crimson clover and wheat, but all the foxtails have gone over, there isn’t nearly as much grass as it looks, still won’t get through it all before we ship tomorrow. Oaks are coming up all over the place, its crazy. hey hardly touched the oaks that were in their paddock, even this late, when they were in there for four hours, but the oaks by the water tank that were in the paddock for over twenty four hours look a little haggard. Shame, cause those were hit when they went through before, a month ago. In summary, this is a tough time to manage. April 15 to June 15, I’m just not super confident about what to do. It seems likes its going to be ragged no matter what we do. I’m ready to just let it go during this time of year and knock it all down after the solstice.

Shepherd note: Apr 19, 2014

Busy day, at both properties cattle were out at Glen ellen this morning. I was trying to push them too hard to eat my precious fescue. They got into the native patch on the orchard ridge, which is fine I think cause that didn’t get grazed very hard two weeks ago ( as long as they didn’t get into the exclosure that wasn’t exclosed, eekk!) We (hanna and owen and I) moved them from one end of the property to the other. that went well. We moved them to the front meadow to regraze, which is the first time that we have done that. They are scalping it. I wish they wouldn’t but I don’t know how to stop them, since they leave bushy patches and take the other all the way to the ground.

Shepherd note: Apr 18, 2014

Moved them into the california fescue patches and I wish those little punks would eat more of it. It is full of old growth and I spent hours walking cattle around, letf them in the piece between Narvaez and the orchard to work it out for themselves. They were eating the stuff that I am calling golden alexander though I’m sure it isn’t that, unbel with a big yellow globe. Eating lots of p.o. and toyon, everything else, really going at the danthonia again, after having ignored it ten days ago.

Shepherd note: Apr 17, 2014

Boring. Big paddocks in the bottom of the orchard, leaving lots of green seed heads. They are eating the iris though, which is kinda surprising.

Shepherd note: Apr 15, 2014

First day that I saw one really go at the poison oak. Unfortunately they are not going at the vince. In the vinca patch.

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