Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What do you think of when you see this?

This is the field next to the east of my house. It's public green space.

Looking east from our fence line. You can barely see our neighbor's fence in the top left of the picture; it's perhaps 300+ feet between our house property line and theirs.

Here's the side view. For comparison, the top of our predator fencing is about 3 feet.

So what do you think when you see this?
  1. I am SO GLAD I don't have to mow that!
  2. Um, chiggers. And... other bugs. And... snakes??? EEEK!
  3. "... for amber waves of graaaaaaain!"
  4. That could feed my horses for MONTHS!
As you've probably guessed, I think of horse feed when I see that much grass. The boys have been diligently mowing during daylight hours around here, and we've been rotating them after several days on each pasture. The back pasture is getting a much-needed rest, and I don't have to mow the rest of the property.

Feeding the boys grass has cut down significantly on our feed bill in the last month or so. They're up at night since I don't want them on so much grass 24/7, and they have a round bale to nibble on when they're up. Well, they don't nibble much, since I haven't noticed a significant decrease in the amount of hay left for nearly a week now. Neither of them are getting any grain either - Red's too fat to need it (I think he's an air fern), and Saga's at a fairly good weight right now. This is somewhat surprising since when he was boarded, he got 12 lbs of pelleted grain per day. However, he often had little access to forage, especially when the horses were left in due to inclement weather. I think he got 2, maybe 3 small flakes per day, if he was lucky. So my own little feeding experiment seems to demonstrate that, as we all know, forage is best for horses.

Of course, eventually the rains will stop, the temperature will rise, and the grass will go dormant for the summer. I'll be back to feeding hay and hoping that we don't have a drought and skyrocketing hay prices this year, although at $9 per square bale, it's not exactly cheap now. But that leads me back to the greenspace next door. What will happen to all that delectable grass? Can I cut it for hay (doubtful, but worth a call to the city maybe)? Can I graze the boys on it during the weekend while I'm home, if I set up a portable electric fence and keep an eye on them (again, worth a call to the city)? Will it be left to die off naturally or will it be mown and wasted?

I'm looking at things differently, that's for sure. Whereas before I might have just seen a field of tall grass, now I see food for the horses. If I were raising a sheep or a cow for slaughter, I would see - indirectly - food for us. And it frankly seems a shame to waste it.

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