There is nothing more frustrating than to go feed the animals and come back with a thistle sticker embedded in the end of your finger. I remember as a kid that it seemed like any time I didn't have gloves on, I found a bale with thistle in it. It is amazing to me how the animals can eat this stuff and actually seem to enjoy it. I can remember driving cows down in New Mexico and watching cows and horses alike selectively pick the biggest purple thistle to eat as we gathered cattle and made a 3 day drive up to the mountains for the summer. Why are their mouths so tough and my hands so soft?
We take extra care to keep unwanted grasses out of our hay. While there are grasses that can be dangerous for certain animals, most of our issues are around grasses and weeds that don't make high quality hay, or are a nuisance (like thistle). For the last several years, we have taken several hours during each harvest to separate out any areas that may have weeds and stack that hay in a different area. It was very labor intensive and took several hours on each field. It was time to change things up.
Crop rotation is part of any good farm management plan. Our perennial hay crop allows for several years of good yield without having to turn the field and replant. That said, each time a field is replanted, there are multiple steps and a significant cost associated with the effort. To keep from rotating multiple fields due to ever-spreading weed patches, we decided to mitigate with a selective weed killer. The down side is that much of the alfalfa present in the field would die, but the upside is that we can keep all of the weeds out, making harvesting easier, and having more peace in knowing that we are providing a quality bale of hay.
Quality is of vital importance here on the Seibel Ranch. A job done right speaks to your character, and honors the God who has blessed us beyond measure. Thanks for reading and visiting our website. Safe travels and God speed.