That Wonderful Time of the Year

People all over these United States make a claim every year. They sing together that the Christmas season is the most wonderful time of the year. I want to submit that at Raising Wood, a wet spring is the at least a tie with the Advent, even beyond the fruitful flame war of Christmas vs Easter. I’ll give some examples from this past month. As a bonus, there’s a picture at the very end that would be impossible to plan for.

Bird in the grass

Spring has new life. Birds hatch and escape their nests. I found this blue bird on the ground amidst tall stands of grass. It was such a lovely day, Blue the cat came through and made some paw swipes and moved on. Hours later the fledgling was flapping and scampering up past the house, with a whole life of predatory insect control ahead of him.

Speaking of grass grown tall, we have pastures that never grew above my ankles last year. With rain instead of drought, growth is past my knees. It is fun in person to watch the goat kids leap and bound through the grassy jungles as we move them into new pastures. You can see that the stand is up to the momma’s bellies, sometimes past their ears. The sward is thick and rich.

Speaking of new life and mommas, we hatched chicken eggs. Mixed results. Batch 1: 21 eggs, 0 hatches. No reason why, they were silent in the exit interview process. Batch 2: 21 eggs, 9 hatches. They did well in the new halfway house and have transitioned to grass based chicken RV living very well. Curiously, we have seen a dramatic increase in the chickens grass eating capabilities and problem solving skills as we’re on the third generation. There’s chicken capabilities being unlocked that we didn’t get from the store chicks. It’s alsbeen fun seeing the chicks hatch from the brown eggs laid by Wellsummers show yellow feet. The Americana/East Eggers from the olive&blue retain their gray feet. They are for sale, as is the next batch. Email me.

We added two head of cattle to the mix in the winter. One was a bull calf that was already steered, the other was intact. We took the intact one to the vet for the castration. Somehow he dive-bombed my leg in the transport process. Turns out he had a diet very high in fresh grass. It left grass stains on my khakis through the manure. Sometimes you get the steer, sometimes the steer gets you, I guess.

Seeing fresh grass is wonderful. Believe me, they are more aware of the fresh grass on the other side of the fence then we are. Now we get to rotate the cows to fresh pasture as they finish up a pasture. A welcome change from the hay filled tedium of winter feeding. The pasture on the left is ready for grazing. They have spent 2-1/2 days in the pasture on the right and it will grow for 20-30 days before we rotate cows back on it.

Out on those rotation pastures, we’re trying a different method for chickens. The goal is to add grass and insect life to the chickens diet. The A frame is where the hens are roosting and laying eggs. The white net is a portable electric fence that we can use to give them a ‘yard’ around the A frame. This will fertilize the pasture, destroy more grasshoppers, and give the chickens more space to be fun and happy birds with less confinement housing. No manure build up means better sanitation for everyone. This picture is the third area we’ve set up. We’ll move them forward 40 feet in a week. The net connects to all the existing pasture fencing. It is a wonderful layering solution to our infrastructure.

Can I get all of the glory of the spring together into a single picture? No. But if I could make an attempt, this is the front runner.

Do you see it? The cattle in the foreground devouring a pasture that was heavily grazed by goats in the winter. They’re de-worming and eating and fertilizing and becoming delightful beef. The goats in the far back left, fresh pasture with tree branches and so many glorious leaves to nibble at warp speed. Midframe, a tree in full leaf putting shade over my children’s project house, fresh off a good hose washdown and brush scrubbing to ‘clean it up’. Then some pallet fencing protecting the garden. Finally, To the very far back right, where the rainbow terminates, beyond the garden and the pasture: Not pots of gold with red headed guardians, but the finest of does come to admire the view.

My friends, that’s most wonderful time of the year.