Yearling heifers are wintering on the south side of the farm. They graze standing hay and get alfalfa hay twice a day. Because cattle are notorious for wasting hay, we feed it to them under the hot wire so they cannot lay in it or trample it. It's a lot more work than just setting a bale out for them, but well worth it because they don't waste very much. These girls should be ready to breed this summer and will join the milking herd in the spring of 2017.
Already this season, we've had 2 ice storms with major power outages. I can't think of another winter where this happened twice--much less this early in the season. We hope it's not a sign of things to come!
With the slower pace of winter, we are working on a variety of permaculture projects. The ice storms have brought down a lot more limbs, particularly along Wagon Creek. Some of these will be used for building more hugelkultur gardens. We had particularly good success in growing potatoes in these mound gardens last season, so we want to plant a lot more this year.
Ron and his right hand man, Tim, have been planting lace bark elm trees as windbreaks. We've planted hundreds of trees on the farm over the years, and it's an ongoing project. This is a windy climate and it always amazes me what a difference a wind break makes: the ground doesn't dry out as quickly in dry weather, the cattle are protected from cold winds, and it's a snow break--to name a few. We are adding more fruit trees to the mix, but these are planted closer to the house and barn where we can better protect them from grasshoppers. A couple of years ago, we planted several dozen chestnut trees, but the grasshoppers destroyed every one of them.
On the food production side, we're making good use of the commercial kitchen and are baking a lot of granola, and pizza crusts, making lots of granola bars and experimenting with hummus recipes. Hope to have some ready by the Jan. 16 Tulsa Farmers Market.