Summer Rules 2018: How Our Kids Help Our Grass Fed Farm

 

I am sure you have seen meme’s for “Summer Rules” all over Facebook.

If you have children you know that summer vacation is on it’s way, and my kids are counting down the days. Our summer rules will include a couple things that didn’t make this list and I wanted to share with you what my kids will be doing on the farm this year.

Have you:

Checked on the chickens and opened their door to go outside? –  Because we have to keep our chickens safe from predetors at night, they sleep in the barn where there is nice cozy wood shavings, fresh water and food. Every morning during the summer it will be my son Ty’s responsibility to go check on the chickens and make sure they are able to make their way outside. It’s important to let them out early in the morning so they have plenty of time to forage for bugs and other foods. Once it gets too hot, they will look for a shady spot in the pasture, or head back into the barn where the fans will keep them cool. We have a special water system in the barn that allows them to always have fresh, cool water to drink. Chickens can dehydrate fast in the hot Michigan summers, so water is the most important necessity for them. We had to break out the generator last weekend because we lost power for a while due to the heavy winds we were having. Thank God, the generator ran the well like a champ, and that kept the fresh water coming. Making sure our chickens stay safe, healthy and happy will be on the top of our to-do list!

Checked the pasture grass in the next pen to see when we should move the cows to fresh grazing?  – Because our cows are grass fed, we use pasture rotation to ensure they have access to the grass at the optimum time. We need to check the grass levels daily so that we know when to move them to the next pasture. During the spring, summer, and fall it is important to keep them moving from pasture to pasture, because when cows eat, they wrap their tongues around the grass and pull it into their mouths. So if the grass isn’t long enough for the cows to wrap their tongues around, they will go hungry. They aren’t like other grazers such as horses, sheep or deer that have teeth in the front of their mouths that allow them to snip the grass, at nearly ground level. Once the pasture has grass at the right height we move the cows. In the spring all the pastures are full of lush grass so we are moving the cows every day or 2, but when the hot summer hits, the grass grows much slower and we may not move them as quickly. In the wintertime our cows stay in a very large pasture with access to the barn where they come for water and shelter. We don’t rotate them during the winter because the cows seem to stay very close to the food and water when it is cold outside. Plus, they like to stand together and they end up destroying any of the grass that was left and as soon as the snow melts that pasture turns into a muddy mess. So as soon as the grass is ready, we begin the rotation.

~ Katie

P.S. Here is an up-to-date family picture, this was just taken on our family vacation to Tennesee.

Rick, Katie, Ty (9yrs old),  Aurora (7yrs old),  Zannah (4yrs old),  Lyrra (10 ½ months)

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