Sunday October 4, 2015, from 3 PM to 5 PM.  Doug and Sheila Garrison invite you to a walk in our pasture.  Meet in pasture located one-quarter mile North of US HWY 34 and NW 140th Street, Lancaster County Nebraska (east side of road).  NW 140th Street is the Lancaster – Seward County line, about ~12 miles West of Lincoln or ~10 miles East of Seward on US HWY 34.  Street Address: 7650 NW 140th Street, Malcolm, NE.

Pasture Walk Topics:

Dress for walking in a tall grass prairie.  Bring your ideas and questions.  Let’s learn together.  Share our successes and mistakes.

If questionable weather comes to our area on October 4th, check this blog post for latest updates or call 402-796-2208.

Looking forward to seeing you soon.  For more information about our pasture walk, feel free to drop us an email.

(PDF Pasture Walk Flyer Link)

Well I guess it is actually New Years Eve of the Water Year.  October 1st marks the start of a new water year.  As grass growth slows down and becomes dormant over the next few months, the moisture we have in the soil now and what we get over the winter will greatly influence what kind of grass growth we can expect next spring and early summer.

With that said, our area has very good soil moisture at the beginning of the 2015 water year.  Below is a map of the 48 states showing the actual rainfall from September 1 to September 29 COMPARED to the 30 year average (1981 to 2010).

precipitation anomaly

First 29 days of Sept. 2014 rainfall compared to the average rainfall for the same time period over the 30 years 1981-2010.

Our farm is located in an area that has received around 150% of the rainfall we would receive compared to the 30 year average.  When I downloaded this image on September 30th, we were getting another good shower, over an inch total for the day.  Grass needs moisture and sun for growth.  We are always sure of the sun light, moisture is more variable.  One always needs to be an optimist to farm/ranch.  At this point things are looking good for being a perennial vegetation (grass/forb) farmer going into 2015 based on where we are starting the 2015 water year.

Source of information: http://prism.oregonstate.edu/

For current weather information that includes long-term average data in an easy to view format try: http://weatherspark.com/

 

Monitoring of our grazing animals and the impacts on the grasslands we manage is something we do daily.  What does the pasture look like ahead of our herd?  What does the pasture look like where we just moved from?  How do the cattle look (body condition) compared to a week ago?  Based on these observations we can make decisions during the current season and anticipate decisions for the upcoming grazing season.

What about the long-term monitoring?  We started some basic monitoring activities prior to the cattle arriving in 2011.  This includes soil, water and forage sampling.  In 2009 we established a photo monitoring site along with collecting detailed forage data at the site.  We return to this site each year near the same date and collect photos and forage data.  Please share any thoughts you may have after reviewing the photos through the years below.

2014 monitor update, looking back through 2009:

 

Photo Point Monitor 2014

August 4, 2014. The site was grazed twice since the previous photo; mid-November 2013 and early July 2014. The brown forage is mature yellow sweet clover.

July 2013.  The site has been grazed five times since the cattle arived in July 2011.  Usually not for more than a day or two during each grazing event.

July 2013. The site has been grazed five times since the cattle arrived in July 2011. Usually not for more than a day or two during each grazing event.

Where is 2012?  Not sure what happened in 2012.  A major drought developed after mid-June that year.  I probably decided it was to much of a downer to take photos.  Of course now I wish we had a photo.

Photo Point Monitor 2011

August 8, 2011. Cattle arrived on farm July 2011, but this site has not been grazed yet. It has been 30+ years since cattle have grazed this site.

 

Photo Point Monitor 2010

2010 – July 23. This site previously had thorny locust tree invasion. From 2000-2009 trees were removed with hand cutting, spot spraying, multiple burns and some bulldozer work.

 

Photo Point Monitor 2009

2009 July 30. Camera is pointed toward house on far hill in background. House serves as a permanent feature for future photos.

Just happened to take this photo in the spring 2009 prior to establishing the photo point near here.  This was following a spring burn.  The white spots on the hillside are glacial till boulders, most are just at soil surface level.

Just happened to take this photo in the spring 2009 prior to establishing the photo point near here. This was following a spring burn. The white spots on the hillside are glacial till boulders, most are just at soil surface level.