Not much time is spent thinking that about what’s going on below the surface of our pastures, but in fact, it turns out that what’s below is key to what’s above. Proper soil management can make a major difference for healthy pastures, and spring is the best time to take action.Read More
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Filtering by Category: composting
Although all organic matter, including manure and bedding, eventually decomposes, it's worthwhile to kick-start the process by implementing some basic composting practices. Here's why ...Read More
As many of you already know, one horse produces about 50 pounds of manure per day. Manure management for us means dealing with about 600 pounds of manure daily; it is important for us to reduce mud and dust, parasites and pathogens, as well as odors as best we can. In addition, it just looks nicer for our business to have manure picked up and our place clean.Read More
Trying to create an enriched confinement area for your horse is frustrating when battling mud issues. Mud is nobody’s friend; it creates an unhealthy environment for horses by harboring bacteria, fungal organisms and other pathogens that cause abscesses, scratches, rain scald and thrush. Plus it’s a breeding ground for annoying, disease-carrying insects such as filth flies and mosquitoes.Read More
Tips for June:
- Eliminate flies and mosquitoes.
- Keep pastures and plants productive.
- Protect and maintain farm equipment.
Like many people these days you probably struggle to weave chores, work, riding and family time into your life's fabric, leaving leisure activities behind in the dust. This month, we're making a case for attending an equine class or event—why it can be worth the effort, and why so many people have thanked us after they made time to attend one.Read More
Have you wondered if there’s something more you can do with your farm or small acreage, something innovative and fun, that might help with a little extra income? If so, then you might be interested in agritourism, ecotourism or geotourism, a key focus of a Horses for Clean Water event in early May in Snoqualmie, WA.Read More
Horses can expend a tremendous amount of energy stomping and swishing at irritating pests that can harbor disease, cause eye infections and inflict painful bites. Since our domestic horses can't roam and escape insects like their wild counterparts, here’s a few strategies to help keep them fly-free and happier this summer:Read More
It’s gratifying when our readers share their stories. What’s working on their farm? What are their goals? What tidbits have they learned along the way and what issues are they currently facing? Hearing their stories can be a great way to view our own experiences, both our successes and our failures. Sometimes from a different vantage point we can assimilate fresh ideas to help out on the farm.
This month we travel to Urban Cattle in Thurston County, Washington, a farm whose owner has been attending Horses for Clean Water classes and tours for over ten years now. Here’s what she shared with us:
HCW: Can you tell us why you initially set up your farm, and what your current objective is?
This farm has served to recharge me from a demanding career. I work to raise seed stock Herefords cattle that pose desirable genetic traits that can be measured by DNA testing and expected progeny difference (EPD’s), which is based on ancestry. It is fun to choose from the array of Hereford bulls with leading genetics and then see how the offspring turn out.
HCW: What new skills have you enjoyed learning?
Working to be a good steward of the land and my animals has taught me a lot, from carpentry skills and rumen function to dung beetles and birthing calves. Horses for Clean Water got me launched into best practices with their great practical information, especially dealing with the rain and manure issues that come with raising livestock in the Pacific Northwest.
HCW: Can you tell us some of the improvements you’ve made that have helped you manage your cattle and your land?
I have implemented a number of practices. One of the main improvements has been constructing a winter confinement area that is free of mud. Manure is collected daily; I have also constructed a manure composting building that is conveniently located nearby it for chore efficiency. For the composting system, I pipe forced air into the bins and occasionally turn it with the tractor to augment the rate of decomposition. In addition, I use a lightweight rototiller to break the drier, composting manure into smaller pieces to further speed the process. Often I have paid people who have done some small job for me with organic compost at their request.
Another improvement is that I now utilize both pasture rotation and strip grazing via portable electric poly wire fencing and step-in posts. By setting the electrically charged wires high, the calves can pass underneath and graze the best grasses, with the cows to follow when the fence line is moved. Most cattle people will tell you, they are really grass farmers.
Additionally I add nutrients to my pastures as needed, and it seems that liming is always necessary for my soil type. Dung beetles break up the manure enough such that I have not used my harrow for a few years now. I stay away from worming medication and fly control methods that could hurt the dung beetles.
Flies are controlled with wasp predators and Rescue® brand fly attractant bag traps. I also use a fly spray for the horn flies - different types of flies are killed or trapped by different methods. No one method kills all species.
I have enhanced the property for wildlife by providing plants, water sources and shelter for a variety of animals. A progression of native pollinator plants have been planted and provide nectar and pollen for bees, from when they first emerge all the way through fall. I have purchased plants at Conservation District and Native Plant Society sales.
Also, I have installed about a dozen bird houses that are usually inhabited by tree swallows. Snakes have rock warming areas and the rough skin newts have logs and other woody debris in the forest to utilize. The list goes on - this year I am going to try a moist mineral container for butterflies.
HCW: Any last comments or achievements you’d like to share with our readers?
Realize that making your place the best it can be is a process that takes time. As much as we want it to happen overnight it doesn’t, but there are benefits to going slower. I think you will make a better choice on your upgrades when you have the time to think them through. Attend farm tours so you can get ideas about what might work for you. I encourage everyone to get the infrastructure done first before purchasing your animals. Then when you have the animals you will have more time to enjoy them.
Recently I have been awarded a Pollinator Habitat Enhancement Grant from The Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the US Department of Agriculture. I would recommend and encourage others to check out this program.
You can read more about Urban Cattle in our photo corral.
Boy, it’s dry! If you live in the Western US, you are most likely looking at ways to help curb your water usage. Maybe you’ve had a well run dry, or are on restricted water use, or are worried about resources for fire season. In any case, conserving our precious drinking water is always a good idea, whether you live in a drought stricken area or not. Below is a look at some ideas to help conserve water on your farm.Read More
Do you crave the satisfaction of seeing your horses frolic and graze on lush, green pastures?
May is an optimum growing month around North America, especially for grasses. A quick assessment of your pastures now can ensure they are healthy, productive and beautiful throughout summer and fall.Read More