Restock Dates: Please see our Farm Blog where we post our weekly newsletter for the latest updates

Wintering Our Cows

written by

Ben Simmons

posted on

December 17, 2023

There are a lot of books written about how to farm without feeding your cows hay in the winter. I can think of one person who advocates for "kicking the hay habit" who also hays his cows in the winter - he even designed a hay unroller (similar to what we use) to unroll his hay as well as sell to other farmers.

I have learned the best approach is to graze your warm season grass as long as possible while planting cool season grass - AND to have enough hay available for at least 90 days. After all, the weather is unpredictable.

Like this year, the hot and dry summer through fall period limited both the amount of grass available to graze as well as the amount of hay available. For example, in yesterday's MS Market Bulletin there were only six ads listing Hay For Sale. Five of the six were in the 662 area code. Typically there would be 4-6 columns of ads listing hay for sale.

Fortunately, we work to develop a good relationship with our hay supplier (we choose to buy our hay) and started taking deliveries in May when most farms are not thinking about their hay needs. Thankfully, we were able to buy enough to get us through mid-February if all goes well.

Trust me, we would love to be able to kick the hay habit because hay is expensive - the most expensive way to feed your cows. This year, our hay bill was about 25% higher than last year - greater than $20,000!!!

While we are feeding hay, we rotate the pasture used from year to year because we are able to easily spread the cows' manure and residual hay across the pasture using our hay unroller. With this tool the hay is unrolled in strips across the pasture. Unroll a strip of hay at X spot. Then unroll the next bale about two cattle lengths parallel to the last strip... and continue from fence to fence.

Here is a video we made last year showing how we unroll the bales. Click here to view and learn about the advantages gained.

This week I needed to take a physical inventory of feed in our feed bins before placing our next order. This requires climbing to the top, opening the lid, and getting a rough idea where the level is at on the different structural rings and then converting this to weight of feed. Anyway, while on top of the feed bin I took the following picturre of two pastures planted in cool season grass. The only fertility used was from compost made with materials off our farm. It's looking pretty good to me.

Grass-MN-2023-1117.jpg


Here is a current early morning picture of our turkeys on pasture enjoying some lush green grass and forbes.

Turkeys-on-Pasture.jpg

In closing, I would like to leave you with this quote from the President of COP28. You can read more here.

Sultan Al Jaber, the president of COP28, declared that there is "no science" indicating a need to phase out the use of "fossil," or earth-based, fuels like coal, oil and natural gas because using these fuels has absolutely nothing to do with global heating.

"Unless you want to take the world back into caves," Al Jaber stated at the event, it is probably a good idea to continue using these fuels rather than dive headlong into a "green" paradigm that is both unsustainable and a recipe for economic failure for those countries that adopt it.

At Nature's Gourmet Farm, our intent is to create a community that evolves around one of the most intrinsically important things of the ages, and that’s the provision of sustenance. That's our passion - to raise healthy food to nourish families and strengthen immune systems.

If you are new to our farm then maybe you have been looking for premium ALL NATURAL GOODNESS of beef, pork, chicken, and eggs raised on pasture as God intended - with emphasis on Regenerative Principles and NOT conventionally raised animals (with growth hormones, drugs, chemicals, and antibiotics) - and where animals are treated humanely - then you have come to the right farm. Our delivery schedule and product availability are listed below along with order buttons that will take you to our website where you can browse over 90 product choices and place your order from the convenience of your home. It's that simple!

** Product Availability Update **

NOTE: Restocks are made about 6 PM on the dates indicated below!

Chicken - Fully Stocked. Next restock will be January 10th 2024. Yes, we will be raising chickens throughout the winter months

Turkey - Whole turkeys are sold out. Expect to have Ground turkey and pieces about mid January 2024

Eggs - Restock each Wednesday. Received 950 new pullet hens Thursday, Nov 9th. Starting to get small to medium eggs

Beef - Next restock will be December 22nd

Pork -Fully Stocked

Lamb - Restocked September 13th. Scheduled to process lamb in November, but this has been delayed. Probably Jan 2024

More from the blog

Are Foreign Imports "Local"?

It may surprise you that I do receive AND read several weekly newsletters from other farms that I know and trust. Last week, Paul Brown who owns Nourished By Nature in Bismark, ND (son of Gabe Brown) wrote a really good article on import beef and he agreed to let me share with my customers. So, here goes! If you recall, the last newsletter we sent out referred to the statistic that today, only 2% of the population in the US produces food for the entire country (plus imports) as compared to 17% in 1940. This is unprecedented and it makes me wonder, what happened over the last 80 years? And where will we be in another 80? No wait, how about 10 years??? Will all US food production be outsourced?

Product Updates & More

First, a quick followup from last week's email where I shared my letter to Sec. Watson. This generated a lot of interest and response from our customers - ALL very positive and thankful for us taking the stand we do. Several customers also shared that they were personal friends with Sec. Watson and would contact him regarding our farm. So far, I have not heard from him. Cindy shared the following: Thank you for speaking out about issues that many of us are very upset about and feel like we have no voice. Hopefully, Secretary Watson will actually do something. In my opinion, Farm Bureau is against most Mississippians. They were against the illegal land sales to the Chinese and other foreign countries who want to harm us. I was at the meeting at the Capitol a few months ago and saw it firsthand. They are against any legislation to protect pets, such as dogs and cats, from animal abusers, in addition to the chicken and dairy issues you mentioned above. I am no fan at all of Farm Bureau. They are a detriment to our state. But they have a powerful lobby and lots of friends in influential places . And lots of farmers, big farmers, are fans. I have always been a fan of ag commissioner Gipson and I expect he will run for governor one day. I’m not sure if it’s a political play, but it seems that he is quiet on most of these issues. One exception is the Land deals, because he did chair those groups and hold the hearings.

Letter To Sec. Watson MS Secretary of State

This week I received an email from Sec. Watson regarding his offices' plan and successes in eliminating administrative and MS Code bottlenecks that hold back business growth. He also asked for input on areas that affect our business. Have you ever heard the saying, "Be Careful What You Ask For?" Well, here is my response to Sec. Watson. I'm still waiting to hear back from him - which I truly hope will happen. Sec. Watson, first let me thank you for aggressively tackling these tough issues. Too many politicians today are mere pawns of