The past week has brought us much delicious warm rain, and we are now green again and celebrating it. City folk complain of rain on Christmas Day, but we rejoice in it :)
We have found some free grazing just around the road. So secluded and sheltered and grass and thistles higher than my waist. We swapped 2 piglets and 2 ewes for the grazing, and so far have Sam, Lui and Nita round there nibbling round the thistles.
Because it is so sheltered there, the grass never dried out, and there is a stream trickling through that keeps the moisture up too. Carmen and Josh run the dairy farm, but these small paddocks were messy and weedy and welcomed the horses to help clean it up. Andrew has been out with the chainsaw sorting out old fallen branches, and we've been cleaning up all the old bits of fencing wire so that we can safely strip graze our babies there. Hopefully by looking after this place we will keep the free grazing for a while yet.
In the meantime it has given our land at home a bit of a rest, and we plan to take a few more horses over there until the feed there runs out. All good. It means I can focus more easily on the horses here at home.
Thankfully the rain has meant that we shouldn't get a drought like last Summer. We have started feeding hay out anyway, to ease the strain on our tired pastures. I have managed to pick up 35 round bales of meadow hay and 14 bales of grass straw for cheaper than it costs to make, simply because it is 2 seasons old. We have also sourced 49 medium squares of lucerne baleage, from our neighbour, at $70 a bale, which is probably a good $20 or so cheaper than the market rate. We are counting our blessings and slowly paying it off.
Added to this is the 20 or so acres of standing hay we are making into conventionals. I tell you what, it is such a relief to know that we will be sorted this winter. It really makes me so happy to know that my babies won't go hungry at all, and will in fact be spoilt! Lucerne Baleage! the feast of Kings!
If we can drop the horse numbers down as much as I hope, then we will have surplus feed also. Finally we may be able to re-sow some of our paddocks, which have taken a fair bashing as we have grazed them really hard. All the weeds are starting to come up now! It will do fine for the next while, but will probably summer farrow some paddocks next year (spray out the grass and plough it under = nothing grows over summer which means more moisture stays in the soil so it strikes well in the autumn when sown) especially as we are in a dry area.
May even be able to resow some in Spring (September) also.
Don't hold your breath though! Still have to pay for the feed and get the soil tests done!
Our "5 year ish" plan of developing this property and building our new home looks much more like a "10 year ish" plan, as we are 3 years here now, and still only put up 3 permanent fences and one fifth of the yards that I want! We aren't worried about how long things take, it's all part of the adventures of life.
People are talking about the economic downturn, but for me things are looking up. We are through one of the driest Summer's in years, through one of the wettest most grotty and muddy Winters in years, and now into a new Summer with no drought and more rain forecast a week away. This is cause to celebrate. This is my Christmas gift. Thank you Mother Nature for looking after us.