“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Mahatma Gandhi

And we’re off to the races…spring has sprung and all of those months of planning will jump from the paper into the planter’s seed box. I keep double checking the 10 day forecast as if someone is playing a trick on me. Does it really say day after day of sunshine and temps in the 60’s and 70’s? The old saying is “make hay while the sun shines”…we may be a bit early for hay so I’ll amend that to say “plant oats and pasture while the sun shines”. We will be planting 40 acres on our farm, which is organic already, to organic oats and an under seeding of grass and legume pasture. So the oats grow quickly, get to maturity at the end of June, and we harvest the dried grain in mid-July. While that is happening we have a double crop growing underneath of grass, legume, and forbes. Once the grain is harvested you’ve already got your next crop soaking up the rain and sunshine….what a beautiful concept! We use a new variety of oats that doesn’t grow very tall and thus doesn’t shade out the pasture mix growing underneath. On the neighboring farm we will plant oats as well. This field will be organic in another two years…a barrier that keeps a lot of farmers from moving to organic but we like to think good things come to those who wait.

This week was chock full of warm and fuzzies. We got the young calves off the concrete and windbreaks by the old barn and onto grass! Normally we would be out of the mud, cold, and moisture weeks ago but we just couldn’t afford to move them out when we knew it would be brutal conditions. We thought the move could be a challenge as we had to run them about 50 yards across the driveway. We strategically positioned pick-up trucks, tractors, and loosely tied fence panels on both sides. There are 3 ways it could have gone. 1) cattle move as one group, slowly and precariously into the new pasture 2) cattle move like a bolt of lightning, fighting to not be left behind and bum rush the new pasture 3) cattle get spooked, some run into the pasture, some run over the gates, and some try to run us over. Drum roll please…the winner is…#2! It’s almost as if they sat in on our pre-move huddle. Ryan opened their gate, they saw the strategic alley-way we provided for their short and hopefully save journey, and they all ran as one into pastoral freedom. I think a few jumped, clicked their hooves and thought…”there’s no place like pasture, there’s no place like pasture.”

We are officially in the hog business. I’ve been working with friends, neighbors and partners with hogs and pork supply for over a decade but never raised them. It’s been on my list of “things to raise” but it requires more labor, better fencing, and unique management. That being said, our farm is no stranger to hogs according to my dad. He and Grandpa raised them for a long time in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. I guess Grandpa was pretty darn good at it, which unfortunately for my dad meant that much more hog manure to pitch fork out of the stalls…by hand. When growing up in the 50’s, dad didn’t exactly have access to a John Deere 326D skid loader. I think he has PTSD. I asked him if he was excited to go see the new pigs…he quickly said “nope”. Such an old curmudgeon. Luckily for me, his 8 year old grandson was excited to see them after school, but I bet he’ll be just as excited to run the 326D skid loader when cleaning out the stalls…someday.

I feel like I could go on and on in this week’s edition…so many great things to expand on, share and hopefully teach but I promised myself I would make this blog series a short read. We all have busy and distracting lives, don’t’ we? I just appreciate those of you who take the time to read my thoughts each week. With that I’ll sign off, pow wow with the crew and fire up the tractor…it’s time to start sowing.

I hope you are letting this spring weather enrich your lives. I can assure you all of us here on the farm are wearing smiles and have a little extra skip in our step!