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Archive for June, 2012

Mob Grazing

Cattle grazing as a mob. Yesterday’s paddock (foreground) is evenly grazed and trampled.

I don’t want to tempt Fate, but I have to say the conditions for grazing on our farm have never been better. When we started, the land had been tilled for years, which is, by design, a catastrophe for the soil. Now in our third summer of grazing we see evidence that the soil health is coming back: there is earthworm activity where there was none before, and the pastures are thick and lush.

With thicker vegetation, we can now stock more cattle per square foot on the land. We seem to have reached that critical herd size where the cattle start to behave as a “mob.” They stay bunched together as they mow down the forage evenly, trample what remains evenly, and deposit manure evenly throughout the field. As always, we move the cattle to a new paddock each day and we let the land rest for a long time before hitting it again.

On top of it all, we have benefited from a perfect balance of sun and rain throughout the spring. We are hoping it keeps up, and we are making beef while the sun shines.

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Land Ho!

For some time, we have been searching for more land to expand our cattle herd. And we are very excited that we finally found some. Peter Nash has agreed to lease some of his nearby land to us. The new land is “under transition” to organic certification. This means it has not been farmed organically in the past, but we will be following organic practices, and the land will be eligible for certification in three years.

We will be very busy in the next few months–there are a lot of new fences to build, and we have to figure out how to deliver water where no water sources exist. But we are delighted that we now have a chance to keep up with increasing demand and to build the farm into a self-sustaining business.

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Today was the first day of chicken processing, which is normally not my favorite chore. However this year, Craig Fournier and Omar (my farming partner) are starting a chicken processing business, and they are taking the entire job off my hands. Craig has converted a camper trailer into a mobile chicken processing facility that he tows from farm to farm. And Craig and Omar plan to establish a fixed base operation as their business grows. This is a much needed service for farms in southern New Hampshire. I am rooting for them to succeed.

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