In the Footsteps of a Winter Grazier

Louis Bromfield said in his book, Out of the Earth, “A farmer can learn as much from his own land as any college of agriculture can teach him-----if he keeps his eyes open to what is going on around him when he walks the land.” This sentiment was borne out of the Chinese proverb, “The best fertilizer of any farm is the footsteps of the owner.” This walking, hearing, seeing, smelling, kneeling, digging and being at one with the land has always been endorsed as a good thing by educators, conservationists, farmers themselves and recently, my cardiologist. The challenge: It takes time to linger long enough to notice something meaningful. The benefit of grazing stockpiled pasture into winter is I don’t need vehicular propulsion, just some portable fencing, my own horsepower and a camera. Because I’m more like a tortoise than a hare, reading the environment in slower motion is really profound. Let me embellish you on what I have noticed from my daily jaunts. See if these experiences resonate with you also. My fence-moving ritual is pretty habitual as I take down the poly-wire and give the heifers a fresh break of grass. Like clockwork, this activity stimulated a pair of hawks to fly overhead and seek out food. I sat in my friend’s tree-stand to watch. It was something to see the stomping and chomping livestock stirring up the mini snowdrifts around the peek-a-boo orchardgrass clumps and sending a flurry of field mice into the waiting talons. However gruesome

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