Our grass growing season is coming to an end. The cattle are now grazing “stockpiled” forage. Stockpiled forage is pasture that we have not grazed for several months. The grass grew all summer long and left un-grazed as “stockpile”, for grazing during the non-growing season.
While setting up portable fence in the pasture today we noticed a number of gopher mounds. We have seen a few gopher mounds over the past few years, but in just a small area today we noted three different mounds. Gophers dig tunnels under the soil surface feeding on roots and who knows what else. At first glance one may conclude the gophers are bad. Feeding on grass roots and making soil piles will reduce the amount of grass available for the cattle to graze, right? From an ecological point of view, increased gopher activity in our pasture maybe a good sign. Aeration of the soil will increase water infiltration. The freshly tilled soil may allow new forage species to grow. Diversity of life is always a good sign of a healthy prairie in our opinion.
So while others may see gophers as bad and consider poison to reduce their numbers, for now we will accept the increase in gopher activity as a good sign that our prairie is moving in a positive direction. More diversity will help our pastures become more resilient in the future.