Mitsui Shepherds-notes

Shepherd note: Mar 14, 2017

So we have had historic rains which have been great, but is has also kept the temps lower then normal longer. In the last few days here we have seen some warm days and the grass has really been on the move and growing. Some of the brome and roadside oats are going to seed a little bit. The rest of the grass is moving quickly into a phase 2 vegetative state and I wonder for how long. Overall it seems like the season will be later and hopefully longer.

Shepherd note: Feb 20, 2017

This seasons rainfall has been pretty relentless. While we appreciate it and our grateful for it, it adds it’s own flavor to the mix. While the early October rains got the grass started off early then continued rains through the winter and colder weather has kept that initial grass growth leveled off. A few breaks in the rain in early – mid February has started the grass growth in certain locations such as our Cayetana ranch. ¬†However on Mitsui grass we grazed 40+ Days ago has not recovered as yet and looks to be a little slower coming on as it was last year.

Shepherd note: Feb 02, 2017

Well, this has been the wettest season I have ever seen grazing. It is obviously needed and we welcome it. It has also brought so much wet and cold that the grass has just not really grown since November much. We are very lucky we left a great amount of residual behind at Mitsui and our other locations as this helped protect the soil from too much impact in the heavy rains. We think this years larger herds have been better and had a better more uniform impact. Together with the larger herds, residual and rain the impact so far has been pretty great. They are definitely impacting the soil, but the hove prints are pretty light for the most part and they are not punching through regularly. It will be great to see how the grass grows come March.

Shepherd note: Nov 03, 2016

We were concerned that we had possibly left to much cover behind during the 2015/2016 grazing season. However the early October rains and a few warm sunny days knocked those concerns away. The grass is growing gangbusters up through the canopy of residual which is encouraging to see.

Shepherd note: Jun 09, 2016

Closing out the cattle season and noticing how late May and Early June is when the Medusa head grass really shows up. It is such a late bloomer in it’s phenology. In this photo there is a lot of rye, but in there as well there is Medusa head. It’s lime green seed heads really stand out now.

Shepherd note: May 30, 2016

May 24th in this photo on High Knowles at Mitsui. With Late rains the grass still holds some green, but everything is going to seed. It is hard to determine exactly what is and isn’t palatable out there right now as the cattle cannot get through all the material in front of them and we do not want to force them to eat everything. So we just keep them moving.

Shepherd note: May 24, 2016

Late in the grazing season just reflecting on the amount of grass we grew this year despite feeling overstocked in February and March. We originally planned for having 25 Animal Days to the Acre from December to February 15th when we planned on getting a second load of cattle. However the stockpile we had going into winter quickly revealed it was only going to get 10 animal days to the acre. We ended up grazing the entire hilltop 1000 acres to compensate for the error in the estimation of ADA’s as opposed to the 300 or so acres we planned to graze from December to February and we ended up back at the beginning of our rotation February 7th. We were notable to take more cattle at the time as we planned. However by April it was clear that we were understocked by a great deal and now the property which we worried was stunted earlier in the season is pumping out material. A quick reflection on lessons:

  1. In winter it is hard to get more then 10 ADA’s in stock piled forage on the mountain top
  2. The grass comes on later up to maybe shoot for a second rotation on March 15th after having grazed the stockpiled forage, as well as more animals sometime between March 15th – April 1

It will be interesting to see how the land responds after having so much more material these past seasons stockpiled and trampled in.

Shepherd note: May 17, 2016

May 17th and Mitsui is still holding on to green in the grass by the skin of its teeth. While all the grass has gone to seed the lower areas such as around leaky lake, that have been wetter are less far along. The grass looks great in terms of gaining weight for the cattle. Additionally, there is a lot of material out there. It has gotten to that place when the animals simply can’t get through it on their own. IN the flats down by leaky lake there is a lot of rye and softchest grass. On the hilltops it seems to be mostly foxtailish.

Shepherd note: May 11, 2016

This is more a general note about the season. We are currently early may and much of the grass in the lower foothills and flats around Sonoma mountain has gone to seed and is turning brown. However the forage on Mitsui with our earlier start this year has kept the grass in an earlier state of phenology is seems. While most of the grass on Mitsui has gone reproductive it is still very green for the most part. Overall Mitsui came a maybe 6 weeks later then rest of the lowland area. I wonder if that has to do with climate solely or our early graze date in December?

Shepherd note: Apr 15, 2016

Interesting observation of the effect of rest on pasture. The first three photos were taken in the most productive pasture we have on the Mitsui property. The photos are of an exclosure that has not been grazed this season and the area around it outside the square in electric fence that has once. This photo was taken around April 12th. The area inside the square has a great deal more material not having been grazed like the area outside of it. The area outside was grazed at the end of February. High production pasture benefiting from a longer rest, or belated start date in the growing season. However the second three photos are of an exclosure that was not grazed inside the box on the right. The pasture outside the square was grazed in late February as well. However there is little perceptible difference between the exclosure which received more rest and the grazed area. This is less productive ground then the first photos. They question I have is how does the capacity for production effect the benefits of rest during the grazing season.

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