Updates from the Farm
It feels like summer has finally arrived and the farm is looking beautiful! The grass is bountiful, the livestock are happy on grass, and although it's an extremely busy period for us as the farmers, we try to take some moments to just enjoy the magic of early summer when the nights are still cool, the mountains have snow on them, and the pastures are perfectly green.
Right now all the grasses and annuals we decided to seed in are being grazed or made into hay for winter feed which is really rewarding. It's when those months of winter research turn into a reality and we get to see how it all worked out. One example of our seed trials can be seen in this picture! We did a seed trial of new crops and it really worked out.
Ready to get a little seed nerdy? Here we go!
The field in this picture to the left was used for winter feeding meaning that a larger group of sheep stayed on it all winter which results in their little hooves compacting the soil. It also means that they spread a lot of poop in the field which is great fertilizer. What we decided to do was plant a forage turnip that has high leaf yield and a little bulb - what this means for us is that we get good feed with the leaves and the bulb will break up the soil that was compacted over winter. The big leaves from the turnips creates a shadier microclimate that we used to get a perennial seed started, in this case we added back in some orchard grass, a central Oregon staple. On top of that, we also seeded in some nitrogen fixing clover that both the soil and the sheep and cattle love. So in that mix, we get a high-growth feed from the turnip, we set up a long-term grass in the orchard mix, and fixed a natural nitrogen source with the clover! And wow does it look good!!
So something that people don't always realize with how we operate is that during summer, we rarely have animals on our own home farm. We started operating this way 4 years ago. We do this because the continuing drought in Central Oregon means our irrigation district gets its water shut off every year due to being in a junior district. Our answer to the continued mid-season irrigation shut offs was to start leasing land in irrigation districts that have more senior water rights which allows us to keep our animals grazing from spring to fall. So the sheep and cattle are doing great, they are all out in grazing groups all across SE Bend and they get moved every 3-5 days to keep them on the best grass!
Apart from cattle and sheep rotationally grazing, this is the time of year where we get our annual turkeys shipped to us! I always say that when the ruminants leave the farm, we get more poultry. Every year we raise a small handful or turkeys for Thanksgiving. Even though I've been raising them for years, it always surprises me that I'm already thinking about the holidays at the start of summer but we love raising turkeys! If you are interested in reserving a Thanksgiving turkey, just email me and let me know!
This is the time of year where our life is just fully intertwined with livestock and land. The reality is that we have very little of an off-farm life during our peak period and that's okay! The days are long but we love what we do and we know that this is crunch time, it's all part of the seasonality of farm life. That being said, we are expecting our first kid at the end of August so we are getting ready to be parents ourselves! Come August, you might be hearing from our shop manager Chase a little bit more than myself (Courtney) as we settle into the new patterns of life :)