Getting the Cattle on the Back Field


I need to get my cattle grazing on my back field. These photos were taken nine days ago and the grass (and weeds) are much higher now. Every day the field loses nutrition as the available forage ages.

The problem is the fencing and myriad other chores I need to accomplish before the cattle can be safely turned out.


  • Re-drill the post and hang the gate that Kyle hung too low to open
  • rake up and dispose of all small bits of metal at the burn pile site (old nails and screws from Mike’s scrap lumber that cattle will eat out of fatal curiosity)
  • hang the back gate
  • drill insulators into all wooden posts
  • hang the fence lines
  • install a new top line all the way around the field
  • install fencing behind and in front of the cabin field
  • make six rope gates
  • bury wire in conduit under gates 1, 2, 3, 4
  • cut the large fallen poplar off the back fence (I’m afraid of chainsaws; big task with a handsaw)
  • put air in the flat water wagon tire and fill the water wagon
  • move out a water trough; fill
  • remove the Pig Palace (cattle will chew on it)
  • remove the “tea cart” trailer (subject of a future post; cattle will chew on it)
  • remove the fence post trailer (cattle will chew on it)
  • remove the extra sheep shelter frames (cattle will crush them)
  • remove the antique spring-tooth harrow (cattle might hurt themselves)
  • weedwhack the entire fenceline to keep weeds from shorting the fence
  • hang the new fence charger
  • wire the new fence charger

There are other tasks, but they are improvements, not requirements. Still, this represents hours and hours of work.

The last few days have been tiring with discouraging developments on the personal front. I have had no energy for a big project. I’ve actually had no emotional energy at all. I have forced myself to do the usual making of beds, mucking of stalls, walking of dogs, moving of sheep. And then I have mowed. Mowing is one of those tasks, like cooking dinner and washing dishes, that never makes the list but still has to be done. It is also soothing. I mowed for four hours yesterday.

Today I’m determined to start work on the back field.

As you can see if you look closely [double-click on the photo], the green look is somewhat deceptive. In many places it is predominantly inedible weeds, bald patches, rocks, ferns, and moss.


However there is a lot of it, and the first step to improvement is to get my cattle out on it.


I’m starting the process today.

8 Responses to Getting the Cattle on the Back Field

  1. Newly says:

    So I hope that tomorrow we can read how many of these twenty tasks you completed. I will think of you as I work through my own far less strenuous list today. 🙂

  2. Jack says:

    Little Lady
    You are going to have to learn to relax. What you call weeds the cows call a smorgasbord. Put your weed wacker in the barn and hide it under a bunch of stuff then forget where you put it. Your first order of busness might be the fence and go from there. Hope you slow down and enjoy your day. Remember there will be another day tomorrow , and if there is not then what does all this matter?

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Hi Jack. “Little Lady” made me smile. I am 5’10” and tower over most of the men I work with. However, I am aging rapidly and don’t stand up as straight as I used to! 🙂 I agree with you about the fence. All the posts are in place. I got the gates up yesterday and will be working on the insulators and lines today. I did not mean to weedwhack the whole field but only under the fence where the raspberries, etc. will short out the charge. Thanks for your unfailing kindness and the reassurance that my slow pace is OK!

  3. Amy L. says:

    Selden, you are a marvel with the amount of work you plan and accomplish every year! I do agree a bit with Jack ^^ on the smorgasbord. Aside from poisonous and noxious weeds (not sure what they might be in your area), many things we consider weeds are delicious and highly nutritious to bovines. I loved Joel Salatin’s “Salad Bar Beef” for that information. It totally made me look at our pastures differently. The Throwback at Trapper Creek’s blog ( is also great. She’s more local to me (Columbia Gorge, Oregon side), and has been farming a generational farm, but she does Salatin-style beef and family cow management. Two things that come to mind for me: is trenching your hotwire under your gates a weather requirement? My husband strung our hotwire above the fixed gates on our property by nailing boards vertically to the gate posts, and passing the wire through holes he drilled near the top of each board. He used a gate handle to hook the wires together so he could open them whenever he needed to drive haylage under on the tractor bucket. They lasted for years. (Same with insulators, most of which were already in place, just nailed into the posts. We do have to replace a few every year, but no biggie.) The other thought is for your wagons. Will your cattle really chew on them? Our Highlands have never chewed on anything left either in our home sacrifice pasture or our leased 10 acres (including old timber hay feeders, hay wagons and handling facilities). The only destructive animal we have is our bull, and that’s natural to a bull…they rub and lean and push, and over time, boom, down goes the “thing”. Last summer it was an old hay feeder…and by old, I mean 1980s with near continuous use and full time weather exposure. Wondering if you could work to get your cattle in there, and save moving the “things” out for after, if it’s necessary at all (I do agree about the harrow and metal stuff they might step on or trip over).

    Whatever you do, take lots of breaks, and enjoy your beautiful setting. Those pasture photos are divine!

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Hi Amy. Thanks for your support! I have never heard of putting wire above gates, but as you describe it, it does sound easier. I wonder if it would work in our area of heavy snow? Everyone here wires gates underground. The wire I use does not require conduit, but as I have some on hand, and as my land is so rocky that occasionally I’ve had to replace the underground wire in high traffic areas, because it has been nicked — presumably by the movement of rocks under the hooves of cattle — I just like to do it anyway if I can. It only takes ten more minutes.

      As for chewing — my cattle chew on everything. They girdle trees. They gnaw on the run-in shelter. I wonder if this is due to nervous dairy breeds? I remember reading about someone’s Holstein steers who chewed the hoses off her tractor. I would like eventually to move to beefers and I will definitely be happy if chewing is less!

      I love Throwback at Trapper Creek’s blog and haven’t remembered to check it recently. I will have to bookmark it. We do have poisonous weeds here (buttercup, bracken fern, milkweed) but the animals instinctively avoid those. More of it is inedible sedges, poplar saplings, moss, Indian paintbrush, raspberry canes. I have a copy of Joel Salatin’s SALAD BAR BEEF and will have to re-read it. Thanks for these reminders!

  4. Missy says:

    Your cows won’t eat that? Midnight would be in heaven! Her paddock is currently about an inch high in grass, if that. They are clever the way they skip the bits that aren’t good for them though. Actually, everyone always says rhubarb leaves are poisonous to cows but I guess Midnight never got that memo because she’s happy to snack on them if she gets near my garden… Oxalic acid or not…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s