Some mornings I wake up and immediately check the weather. Other days I just get dressed and go knowing that it really doesn’t matter. The pigs need to be fed, the eggs gathered and the cows moved whether it is scorching hot or freezing cold, pouring rain or blowing gale-force winds. Today I checked. And this is what I saw:
Brr! I’m not ready for freezing cold. Not yet. I think I’ll move to Hawaii when I finish up at Wyebrook. Hawaiians need to eat, too. They have farms in Hawaii. They have pigs in Hawaii. I’ll find a nice pig farm and go work there. Maybe I’ll grow some pineapples, too. Who’s with me?
This was the first morning the ground was truly covered in frost. There have been a few patches here and there, but nothing like this. Everything was frosted.
Frost is important for a couple of reasons. First it means we have to start watching our water hydrants. The broiler houses are hooked up to hydrants, as are the cow water tanks. If we aren’t careful, the pipes can freeze and break the hydrants. Obviously, this is something we want to avoid so we will be keeping a close eye on the temperatures from here on out.
Frost also affects the cows and their grazing. The cold is good is some ways. Fescue is a nutrient-dense grass with a bitter taste that cows avoid eating at all costs. After the first good frost, fescue moves its sugar stores from its roots to the leaves making it sweeter and more appealing to the cows. Now that it’s cold the cows will stop avoiding all the good fescue in the pastures.
Alfalfa, on the other hand, becomes a problem. Alfalfa is a legume and a key source of protein for cattle. However, a bad frost or freeze can burst the cell walls of an alfalfa plant. This damage makes the protein more soluble and cattle can develop bloat from the faster digestion. Bloat in cattle is more than indigestion; it is a serious medical condition that can kill an animal in less than an hour. To prevent this, you want to keep cattle out of alfalfa rich pastures after a bad frost or freeze.
Baab found her way back into the broiler pasture. Twice. After Ryan and I carried her down she plowed through the fence back to her beloved chickens. Yesterday afternoon was slow so I spent 30 minutes coaxing her back down to the lower pasture. That lasted all of five minutes. She managed to eat all of the duct tape. Ryan is ready for her to be lamb chops.