Alright, the Baby Goats are Cute, but They’re Eating Important Stuff

Goats are notoriously hard to fence in. The mama goats we have a pretty good pen for, but the baby goats can get under and/or through very small openings. And that was no big deal even until lately where these little ones are starting to eat stuff other than goat milk. So, we’re going to need to build some new fortified pens. That’s a project, let me tell you. So, in the meantime we had to find a temporary solution.
We’ll use this former dog run as a temporary goat pen until we build some more goat pastures. This thing is a bit unwieldy to move around.

All the baby goats in their new temporary home. We bring them in to the barn at night.
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Ranch vs. Golf Course?

Sometimes I like to picture what spots on the ranch would make for picturesque golf holes. There’s one great spot that would make a nice par three over part of a lake, and there’s lots of cool places where you could put in a challenging par 4 or even a par 5. But, out here in Milford, a golf course might not be a viable venture inasmuch as the population is only 700 in the town. But I still like to think about it from time to time.

I’d like to put a tee box in here and another one up a little further on the next hill. Then the green would be back in the corner of this pasture about 400 yards away along the creek to the right. A nice par 4. Too much of a fade and you’d be OB, but it would be fairly open on the left. One note of caution: with cows tromping through this pasture every couple of months, the ground can be a little uneven. A nice drive is likely to bounce off into parts unknown.

It is probably not practical to combine a golf course and a ranch, but sometimes I dream about just such a possibility. How about a frisbee golf course? Now that’s something that might work.
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Do You Speak Mooish?

This morning all the cows were gathered by the gate leading to this new pasture and when they saw me walking towards them they all stared at me with an anticipating-type look. When I called them — I usually call out “HEY GIRLS” or “COME ON GIRLS” when I want their attention. Not the type of thing I hear real cattlemen say, but it works for me. Anyway, when I called out to them, they just all started mooing back at me with some urgency in their moos. I catch on slowly, but I do catch on eventually. I finally discerned that they’re hoping I’m going to move them to some nice new pasture. Well, who can resist that mooing? I opened the gate and they all chugged right over to the new stuff. Didn’t even pause to moo a little thanks. But seeing their heads down and chomping away, is thanks enough to me.
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Hawks vs. Rabbits and Mice, While Fertilizing the Natural Way

Well,it’s mechanical, but mechanical doesn’t mean it’s not natural. We practice rotational grazing and try not to overgraze our pastures. The cows themselves do the best job of fertilizing. But cows are not perfect grazers, they pick and choose and they aren’t great at weed control. We don’t use chemical weed control, so that’s where the mowing comes in. A lot of people tell me that mowing is one of the most expensive things you can do from a labor and equipment cost/depreciation standpoint. And they’re right about that — it’s costly. Chemicals are much more efficient and cost effective, they say. But who knows the cost of chemicals in the long run? We like the results we get by mowing, and in so doing, no chemicals are needed.

This morning it was time to do some soil building. Yeah, when we mow down these pastures, really what we’re doing is replenishing soils and building them up organically so they can support healthier grass and other growth which in turn supports more cattle, which in turn feed people.

Mowing pastures has been our best method for controlling weeds too. A good healthy diversity of grasses, some cool season grasses and some warm season grasses is an ideal mix. Most of the mowing is done with this Bushhog 15′ Batwing mower. It is really awesome how much stuff it can shred up and return as mulch to the soil. And the pastures look a lot nicer when they’re mowed. Almost looks like a park out there. Plus, the resulting growth is much more palatable to the cattle. They don’t like real tall, overly woody stems of plants. They like the nice tender shoots. Imagine eating really tall asparagus as opposed to new growth — a big difference in taste.

Another interesting thing about mowing is that it draws the attention of the hawks. It never fails that when I’m out mowing, one or two hawks are out there with me. They seem to have learned that mowing stirs up rabbits and field mice. I love watching the hawks flying around looking for prey. Not that I don’t love the bunnies and mice, I do, but it’s just nature and predatory animals contributing to the balance of life. I never want to run over a rabbit. When I stir one up and it takes off running, I always root for it to get out of the way of the mower and I’ll stop if they just can’t seem to make it fast enough. But the hawks are something else. Just this morning I was out mowing and saw two instances where a hawk caught a mouse within 20 feet of the tractor. It was something to watch. The most spectacular one to watch was the second of the two. In this case, I had just mowed over a large patch of prickly pear cactus. The prickly pear cactus patch is the favorite habitat seemingly for the field mice. And when they hear me coming they scurry for cover. This one pass around I saw one running/hopping away from the tractor. I turned back over my right shoulder to one of the tall trees where I had seen a hawk earlier, but that tree was now a good 250 yards behind me. Just as I turned back to see if the hawk was maybe watching all of this and wondering if the hawk might be able to see this little mouse running away, wouldn’t you know it but out of the tree flashes the big bird. It seemed to flap its wings only a few times and then just held those wings out in a wide span and bore down on its prey. I couldn’t believe I was witnessing this whole thing from start to finish. Meanwhile, the tractor was roaring at max power, with a giant 15′ mower reducing everything in its path to shreds of organic material. Nothing quiet about that process, let me tell you. No matter to this hawk, who was focused entirely on the escaping breakfast. Sure enough it swooped in on the unsuspecting mouse and in very short order snatched it with its claws and flew off to another tree. Amazing stuff. All I could say was Wow. Of course, I couldn’t get a shot of all that with my digital camera. Must move quicker next time!

Doesn’t it look at lot nicer after mowing?

Makes you want to have a picnic doesn’t it?
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What Are You Looking At?

These calves were just spellbound as I walked by. Maybe something I was wearing just froze them in their tracks.

This guy was really wanting a closeup. I could just about pet him. I guess my “cow whispering” techniques are starting to pay off.
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How Do You Get Mini Mules?

You may not know that mules are the result of the crossbreeding of a horse and a donkey. So, it stands to reason that crossing a miniature horse and miniature donkeys, will produce mini mules. We shall see.

We have a miniature horse stallion on loan for a little while. We’re hoping he will take a liking to our mini donkeys. Wait, I said that wrong. Him taking a liking to the donkeys has never been in doubt. Actually, we’re hoping that the donkeys will stop running away from the stallion :-)
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Do Sea Gulls Fly North for the Summer?

Zoom in on this picture if you can and you’ll see that these are Sea Gulls. I’ve never seen a flock of Sea Gulls around here. I didn’t think Gulls were migratory, but maybe they are. We’re a couple hundred miles from the coast. Before I saw them, I heard them — the unmistakable Sea Gull calls were actually quite loud. I expected to hear waves crashing on the beach next. But then I saw them coming right over me. It took me a moment to get the camera out and turned on. The above picture is the best I could get.

Not more than 10 minutes later some actual ducks flew over in the typical V shape making normal duck noises.

We see ducks flying north every day. Some of them land in our ponds for a little rest. But Sea Gulls?
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I think this is a cool picture showing the contrast of trees that are fully leafed out and an old Pecan tree that is just barely now budding and will soon be full of leaves.
Grassfed Beef is Best