Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

Signs of spring showing in the early morning

David Zirnhelt’s column to the Free Press

Walking this morning amongst the later calving cows in our herd looking for newborns, I had a chance to reflect on what was happening on the land.

At least once in this column, I have written about what one agriculture writer has said about looking after the land. He said farmers should walk over some part of the farm every day and walk the whole farm once a week.

This is a nice and helpful exercise if you can pull it off. I doubt I can because most of our land base is at least four miles from home. This is not atypical of medium-sized farms and ranches made up of several parcels.

Our mind’s eye probably takes in everything we pass through in our daily work. Today I walked a piece of rough pasture looking for calves and signs of advancing spring. My significant findings were a sick calf we are doctoring and only a few of the telltale signs of spring—the beautiful purple clematis—which says to me spring has arrived.

This is disappointing but that’s what it is, a late spring. I had thought that at least there would be many forbs (flowering plants) that would feed the cattle and soon there would be a lot of grass over eight inches tall. That wasn’t to be so I will continue to feed some silage (haylage) which is really nutritious and will help the cows make milk for their babies.

I did find a very small pond that I thought had disappeared. This pond turned out to be in a pasture subdivision different than where I thought it was. Now I know that I can pasture this area and the cows can get water early in the spring.

For that I am thankful because I can better manage the land. The herd can be confined for a short period and be encouraged to eat some of everything they have available without overgrazing on their way back to water in a previous pasture.

So, I had a good day.

Some things have been right on time: the lake ice broke up as it normally does, the cottonwoods dropped their sticky bud coverings at the same time as always on a neighbour lady’s birthday, and the hazelnuts flowered when they usually do.

But we have never known (in 48 years) the cottonwoods not to be fully leafed out by now, and the peavine is only getting to be eight inches tall today rather than a week ago which would be normal.

I am grateful to have the time and the peace of mind to enjoy these small pleasures of nature in a world that is reeling in turmoil. My wish for us all is to stay focused on getting healthy food, exercise, and company and do what we can for others.

Whatever we give to others will make us feel better and that is the payback for generosity.

Happy spring! Be patient, it is coming.


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