The growing cycle of the grass this year has been different than normal. I’m not sure if it even went dormant for more than a couple of weeks. The warmer than normal weather in February caused it to turn green but the cold nights kept it in check. March had much warmer than normal temps and the grass kept growing, although slowly. By the first of April I was optimistic that we could turn out cows a couple of weeks early. Unfortunately again, cool nights and drier than normal conditions seemed to stop the grass growth all together. As of writing in early May, the grass still seems to be waiting for more moisture before it really reaches it full growing potential.
Despite these conditions we were able to turn the herd out on grass on April 25th. This is a week or so early for our region of the state. This year Greg will have four different groups of cattle to move through the rotational grazing schedule of pastures. The mature cows will be sorted into two different groups, each with cleanup bulls. The yearling steers will be managed and rotated to avoid any interference with the mature cows, and the replacement heifers will spend the summer in the paddocks as part of the USDA grazing trial. In all, we will have about 270 head to graze for the season.
The latter part of April we were able to get our fertilizer spread on our hay ground and our winter feeding pastures. These pastures see animals at some point during the winter and therefore are grazed down pretty tight. They need a shot of fertilizer to get them to catch up with the other pastures once grass starts growing. In all, we spread 218 lbs of urea/acre on a total of approximately 150 acres.
Just to keep things interesting, the state highway department has decided to widen and improve Highway 22 along the northern border of the farm. This project will take out quite a bit of fence and change our access to some portions of the farm. They are set to do the demolition the middle of May and Greg will have to manage the rotational grazing around the construction and the lack of fence for the immediate future.
Much like the wind, this springs field day season has been strong at the farm. Since January 1st we have hosted 16 tours for a total of 198 people. These people have been from numerous counties in Kentucky, as well as from Indiana, North Carolina, Oregon, and one group of 15 people from China. The graphic shows our visitors at the farm since 2013 with the areas shaded in green representing the counties, states, and countries that have had someone visit Eden Shale Farm. If you haven’t been to the farm and you would like to checkout what we are doing, make sure you visit www.edenshalefarm.com.