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: May 03, 2016

This year we planned on resting the Petaluma Property. However the viewshed needed some landscaping and better cattle then a mow. We just landed in Paddock F and the grass is extremely high and big and lush. Everything in most places on the ranch is going to seed and in later stage phenology. It seems like the rest, not grazing early in the season led to a huge amount of material. It will be interesting to see the long term effects and even next season of the rest and additional material. I am worried that we will not be able to get through the material, or remove enough and possible block out grass next year, but we will see. The photos above show paddock F graze line. The grass in some places is chest and head high.

Shepherd note: Apr 20, 2016

Overall after one year of grazing at Pangea we are starting to see some improvement in overall species diversity. There seems to be more wildflowers and clover this year. Obviously the rains have helped, but we think the grazing has given it a nudge as well. The first three photos are from 2015. The last three are from 2016 almost a year to the day later.

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.

Shepherd note: Apr 08, 2016

Some amazing before and after photos of the Walsh property from a year ago almost to the day. Huge changes in thatch levels and and cool species shifts.

Shepherd note: Mar 30, 2016

Currently Hilltop/Mitsui is just beginning to get into phase two grass growth. Curious if the heavy rains this year had an effect. Additionally curious if our Late December graze start that had us graze over the dry standing material we left behind and the short new growth has set back the onset of the phase two grass?

Grazing report: Grazed Mar 17, 2016 – Mar 19, 2016

Shepherd note: Mar 18, 2016

Moved the cattle to their next paddock down through a stream bank. It was very wet from the heavy rains this year. I am curious if this impact will recover well or better then it was before. I don;t have before photos, but here is the first stage of impact after heavy impact event. The area had previous erosion.

Next entries » · « Previous entries