Every couple of weeks the hay mows have to be restocked from one of our storagebarns. At morning glory farm right now we have 22 cows that we raise for beef. We have mostly Hereford/Angus crosses and some Limousin breed. Of that 22 we hope that 14 of those are pregnant and will calve this summer. The cows can eat about 1 bale each per day in the winter. We try to keep them especially well fed all winter while they are gestating and not on fresh grass.
This is a picture of us moving another load of hay, these trucks hold about 130 bales. This hay is an oat hay, filled with seed pods of oats. We harvested this hay this early July on a piece of rented land at Katama Farm (FARM institute). To renovate the neglected field we turned the soil with a plow in the fall and planted a winter crop. In the following season we planted a pumpkin crop, added missing nutrients and adjusted the PH. Following harvest we planted another winter crop to be disk-ed in early in the spring to plant the hay crop. This change of plant types enrichens the soil, eliminates pests and weeds, and makes use of the natural fertility of fallowed land. Calcium shell grit can also protect plants from slugs or snails and other pests. One way of planting out a hay crop is the use of a nurse crop. As you know grass is a slow grower and will be overcome with weeds if it does not establish itself fast. Using a nurse crop ‘nurses’ the grass along till it can make it on its own. You plant your grass seeds as you normally would then on top of that you plant a fast growing annual that you can cut off later in the season to make way for the grass. We like to use oats, the oats make a quality hay on their own and the whole plant is removed in haying and the grass is left to take over the field. This last round we cut about 100 bales an acre which is good for edgartown land.
The cows like the oats and will after eating it all will nibble on the oat seed pods that fell to the ground around the feeding spot. I love watching these cows gallop across the pasture when they see they hay truck coming. You can see their large pregnant bellies rolling side to side. Daniel is our herdsman and the one who maintains the fences and does most of the ‘heavy lifting’ of feeding. He lives on and maintains our Chilmark side of the farm. There are 4 Herefords in Edgartown now. These are heifers, young females who have not had a calf, they are quite spunky and surprising like visitors. They has to come to edgartown because they were to young to cavort with Mr. Bull who came by this September.