Thursday, March 22, 2012

Preparing for grazing season

Get your netting ready before the season begins:
  • Unroll and unfold the net. Remove any debris. 
  • Repair any breaks in the conductive horizontal strands with a fisherman's knot and clamp them with a brass ferrule (included in the repair kit supplied with each roll). You will also find conductive string for repairs in the kit.
  • Mend any breaks in the verticals with a flexible hot glue. (This works surprisingly well.)
  • Check the posts. Replacement posts are available from us if you have posts and spikes that can't be straightened.
  • Fold and roll the net back up and replace the roll tie strings if needed.

If you stored a battery or solar energizer, get it out and check it!
Test batteries for charge before hauling them out into the field. A stored battery slowly but steadily discharges itself. Use a plug-in battery charger to recharge batteries. Make sure the charger is the right type for your batteries (a 12v charger works only with 12v batteries). Deep cycle batteries need a recharger with a setting of 2 amps or less.

Solar energizer units—the unit can be set facing the sun in order to recharge the batteries. Make sure the energizer is turned off. Leave it for a week to make sure the batteries have received an adequate charge. Clean the panel of any dust or debris that may have accumulated while in use or storage.

If you are going to graze temporary paddocks, plan out the pattern of grazing and fence movements. Many folks use Google maps or similar programs for this.

Visit Google and enter the address of your farm. Click on the image of your farm. Switch from map view to satellite view (top right corner of your farm's image). Print out a copy of the satellite image of your farm. On the printed page, mark where perimeter fences are located. Next mark where you would like to set up temporary fences. When doing this, keep in mind water access for the livestock and how often you plan to rotate and rest your pastures.

Photo: The flock at the East Farm. This is a group of ewes carrying singles and twin lambs. We'll separate them next week into different pastures for management purposes. 

Photo: Anther view of the East Farm ewes. We keep the ewes carrying triplets separated so we can provide them with a few extra "groceries".

Photo: The ewes and lambs that are currently grazing one of the pastures on the home farm.