Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Grass and learning new stuff

I think I've mentioned before that I'm a grass farmer. I like to let on that I'm a rancher because everybody knows that ranchers are way cooler than farmers. But in reality we don't do any of the cool stuff like fightin' outlaws or savin' pretty ladies or ridin' buckin' broncs or havin' fast-draw shootouts on main street.

Nah, we just farm grass. But we're lazy about it. Instead of buyin' tractors and plows and combines and stuff, we just buy cows. Cows are cheaper than tractors and plows, don't need no diesel fuel, do the fertilizin' automatically, and do a much better job of harvestin' than any combine.

And they take that grass they harvest and turn it into little cows. We sell the little cows and use the money to buy a big pickup and a goose-neck stock trailer to drive to the cafe for lunch. People see that pickup and trailer and convince themselves that we're ranchers, and therefore, cool.

It don't hurt nobody when folks fool theyselves into thinkin' we're cool. As long we know, inside where it really matters, that we're just grass farmers.


Uh-oh, what are those bald spots in the prairie?

As it turns out, they're patches of buffalo grass, a native warm season grass. They're growing in the middle of a wide swath of brome grass which was planted here many years ago when crop ground was replanted to grass. Ever since then the native grass species have been moving back in. In another few decades the brome will be gone and the prairie will look like it did in 1880.

The reddish clumps here are last year's Little Bluestem, a native warm season bunch grass.

Little Bluestem is the state grass of Nebraska.

Can you guess the state grass of Colorado?

Those of you who guessed recreational hemp get partial credit. Recreational hemp is the unofficial state grass of Colorado. The official state grass of Colorado is Blue Grama. Here a cow and her newly born calf are laid up in last year's ungrazed crop.

We have a lot of Blue Grama. It's another native warm season grass.

Here another cow and calf are laid up alongside brome grass which is giving way to natives.

And here calves and a pheasant enjoy the abundant Blue Grama.

Some grasses aren't grasses at all. This death camas is actually a native prairie forb. Only three inches high right now, there's enough toxin in this little grass-looking plant to kill about a dozen adult humans.

Fortunately, cows know the difference, and as best we can tell they teach their calves the difference.

This is grass too. It's a winter annual grass called winter wheat. If this field of wheat survives to maturity it'll provide enough flour to make about a quarter-million loaves of bread.

And there goes one of those 'spensive tractor thingies. It's got a planter attached and is probably on it's way to plant corn. Gives me the shudders just thinking about working that hard.

And now for something serious. Here's Claire talking about bugs. Watch the whole thing, but 2:45 is fun.

And...Claire gets a chameleon. Great video. 1:42. Trust me.

Learning new stuff is so fun!


  1. Kinda reminds of my two oldest granddaughters. Cute. Someday she will learn the relationship between bugs and flowers.

    But yeah, bugs are, in general, icky.

    1. Yeah, cute overdose for sure. Everything is new and anything is possible.

  2. "spensive tractor thingies"

    Interesting coming upon one on Hwy 71 in the company Prius.

    1. I'll bet. They don't exactly belong on the roads.

  3. May we never lose our love for grass farm'n, butterflies, learning new things, and kids.

  4. What else does one plant with a corn planter?

    1. Soybeans, sunflowers, milo, dry edible beans, some forages. Those planters are pretty versatile.