Hearty beeves enjoy the snow...
... as long as feed awaits them! We moved them to the next paddock just after taking this picture. It had been conditioned by broilers and layers this past summer, and the beeves quickly found the green grass beneath the snow. The picture below reveals the path of the poultry on the left of the faint fence-line. It is clearly greener than on the right. Poultry leave behind nitrogen and phosphorous, and grass responds quickly, as then do the cattle.
For those of you interested in learning more about "wolf trees", as discussed in the last newsletter, my cousin, Janny, forwarded a great website thereon. They provide the guiding force in a forest.
In similar vein, I just completed Suzanne Simard's compelling book, Finding the Mother Tree. She recounts her life growing up in the forests of British Columbia, working for the Forest Service, and eventually becoming a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia. Her radical research established clear connection between different species of trees. Alder bushes provide nitrogen and carbon to Douglas firs and vice versa, as they grow. This exchange is delivered through underlying mycorrhizal fungi.
This proposition has been threatening to contemporary conventional logging practice, which involves clear-cutting large areas and then replanting them in mono-culture plantations, typically of fast-growing Douglas Fir. Prior to planting, large doses of Roundup are applied to kill competition. This practice is similar to management of grain fields in the Midwest, and a numerous industrial entities have fingers of interest in this pie.
Ms. Simard's research has been controversial because it proves that healthy forest ecology and greatest economic profits are not mutually exclusive, but in fact are mutually supportive. They are generated by collaboration among species, not domination by one. This threatens the status quo, greatly reducing, if not eliminating, the need for Roundup, and she has, accordingly, been given the cold shoulder in the industry for many years. But the veracity of her work has begun prevailing in academia as well as in the field.
Hers is yet another articulate voice revealing how diversity of species is the cornerstone of ecological and financial sustenance.
A recent task in our development of wetlands has been to fill the in-ground barrels that provided points of access to the underground water system. These barrels are about 3 ft. deep and if left uncovered, end up becoming a trap for wild animals. So, we filled seven of them with gravel. We have accordingly decommissioned about 8,000 feet of underground water line. The cement pads remain behind in tribute to the effective grazing system that prevailed on these fields.
Given that there are no Mother Trees in these fields to guide new seedlings, we will observe whether new plantings do as well as they did in Phase I, where remnant Wolf Trees still presided.
We fed our first bale of hay the other day to a small group we are holding in a paddock to ship to the processor over the next months. No grass of consequence remains in the paddock, so we brought forth some hay.
One of the virtues of winter weather is it often enhances activity in the kitchen. Below left are two racks of lamb, one cooked sous-vide and then pan-fried, the other just pan-fried. In accompaniment are rice, black-eye peas, and eggplant.
Check out the yolks of those January eggs! It is hard to manage hens in this weather, with water being the biggest issue. But the effort is ongoing, and these are the result. An increment of news on this front is a young Mennonite man, by the name of Mahlon Stauffer, will be moving to our farm in March with his wife, Annetta, to assume poultry production. So, a next step is beginning to show itself.
The lower two pictures are of lamb-filled enchiladas, before going in the oven and after. Lamb tacos and enchiladas are so flavorful. These are all products of Susan's restless hand.
For those of you parked in front of football games these days, excellent finger-food includes, our Gyozas, chicken wings, and sliders. Shortrib burgers, tacos, and Pork Ragout, along with all the prepared foods, are also easy solutions to a quick and delicious meal.
Bob and I will see you at MadTree this Sunday.
May our brooks always run, wonder be with us, and our kitchen windows inspire.
Drausin & Susan