Written by Stephan Schwab on November 30, 2019
By the beginning of September I reported the farm is becoming green again and we were observing two green spots developing with the first few drops of rain. Then by September 15 the green spots had developed into some serious grass. Now it’s the end of November and I can report that we were able to graze the area twice since then.
By September 20th the green spot had grass of about 35 cm tall.
On September 24 we took the 37 cows over for a first test. You can see in the picture that elsewhere everything still looks pretty sad.
The green spots were the lushest parts of the small area and our objective for taking the top off the grass. The remaining area had some grass but only a few plants tall enough. We wanted to get some animal impact and after just one hour we moved the cows away from the area.
Here you can see a good detail. They eat the tip and trample the rest. That is good, because the remaining leafs will erect again and continue to use sunlight for further growth. The plant grows on top of the soil and beneath the soil and the latter part is what we want. We want these plants to develop roots so that they can use the moisture deep in the soil when there is no rain.
Two days later one of the green spots looked like this: nicely trampled and beginning to regrow. We had quite a bit of hot sun again and the soil beneath the leafs kept cool and moist.
The other part of the small area looked like this on September 26th.
With a lot of sunshine just four days after the grazing by 37 cows we were able to measure a plant height of about 20 cm for those plants that have erected and regrown already a bit.
There was no more rain and by October 11 the green spot was the only significant green in the whole area. The grass that had emerged earlier stopped growing and went dormant again.
However, with some more rain by November 3rd the whole area looked pretty nice:
So we got the cows a second time for an hour onto the area and the result of the spot now looked a bit different:
The temperatures had dropped down to 0C at night and a lot of rain began to show up. There was hardly any sun after that second grazing on November 3rd.
Since then we got a lot of more rain and the sun hardly ever showed up for a whole day. On of the green spots developed a brown spot in the middle and the leaf color continues to be yellowish. However, the rest of the area is looking pretty good again. Now that we looking forward to a few more days with sunshine we might actually graze that area and also the areas before and behind it in a few days. Let’s see how that will go.
You may ask: how does this nurture 37 cows? Well, it doesn’t. The point is that we have cows at the moment to regenerate the land and we are making an investment into the future of this place. When there is not enough feed for the cows, we supplement with purchased feed (no grain but grass based). The cows do help us to get the grass develop a deeper and stronger root system and that should keep it green for longer so that eventually we have a lot more feed for them than we have now. You may want to watch this video from August 2018 which shows how the whole area looked like when we started.
Here is an outlook on what to expect later on: go check out the post about the same area from Spring 2019.
We now try to not graze an area that doesn’t have at least 20 cm of grass on it. But there is another challenge with that and I will write about it in another article.
Do you have any questions or thoughts you want to send to Stephan Schwab? You can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
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