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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I can't believe what beautiful weather we've been having.  This has been near perfect for the Fall Foliage Week - except that there's so little color!  Each day brings out a little more, but there are still only occasional pops of color.  We went to Cabot Village this afternoon and everything is still pretty green.

The color will come, and in the meantime, there are beautiful scenes like this picture taken by Marty Talbot on West Shore Road.  (Thank you for sharing, Marty!)  She took it Sunday morning as the sun was coming up over fog bank that covered the pond.  On cold mornings, the water is warmer than the air and causes a layer of fog.  Within a few minutes it was gone, and the day was sparkling clear.  The air remained pretty cold on Sunday, but the sun was warm.  We had frost for the first time this season on Saturday night, and it was below freezing again on Sunday night.  Last night (Monday) was warmer and we got a little rain (.11 inch) - enough to wet things down, but not enough to make up for the dry summer.

I was interested today in a program on WCAX's Across the Fence.  A young woman, Sarah Flack, has written a book, "The Art and Science of Grazing," about rotating farm livestock in pasture areas.  She studied this at UVM - it is apparently a new concept for modern day farmers.

I know farming has changed tremendously over the span of 80+ years, and goodness knows, I haven't "kept up" with the trends, but I know farmers who never turn their cattle out to pasture. They feed "haylage" or silage plus meal supplements year around.  That was the latest new concept in farming a while back.  I've always felt sorry for those animals that never get the opportunity to roam through belly-high grass or feel the shade of a big bull spruce tree, or smell the earthiness of a pasture after a  summer rain.  Our cows were outside except for a couple hours twice a day for milking.  It's more labor-intensive, having them in pastures, especially the mile-away, multi-acred pastures my grandfather used.  He had ample acreage to allow for rotation from one to another every few weeks, plus grand kids to fetch the beasts night and morning. So our big good-natured Holsteins lived outdoors until the nights got cold; then they were only turned out in the daytime until the first snowflakes fell.  

The idea that "grazing" and rotating stock in pasture areas is some brand new discovery made me smile.  I'm sure Ms. Flack has put a lot of time and effort into studying the effects of grazing, and her book will help people new to farming figure out how to fence areas, plant the right grasses, and figure how often to rotate to keep from over-grazing an area.  However, when I was growing up, every farmer I knew put their cows, horses, sheep or goats out to pasture as soon as the weather turned warm - and the animals grazed at will, in fenced sections, moving in and out of those pastures regularly.  It was just the way it was done.  As they say, what's old is new again.

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