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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
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Feeding Elk Winter Work for the Belgians

Feeding Elk Winter Work for the Belgians

Feeding Elk: Winter Work for the Belgians

by Dan Moran, Princeton, MN

Doug Strike of rural Sublette County is spending his second winter feeding wild elk in nearby Bondurant, Wyoming. Strike is supplementing his logging income as well as helping his team of Belgian draft horses to keep in shape for the coming season.

From May to the end of November he uses his horses to skid logs out of the mountains of western Wyoming.

I accompanied Doug, who is my son-in-law, and his children, Dylan Jackson Strike and Mariah Montana Strike, on one of the elk feeding adventures in late December.

It was a thirty minute drive from the Strike residence north to the Bondurant feeding ground.

Feeding Elk Winter Work for the Belgians

When we arrived, we hiked in to the corral. Doug harnessed his team of Belgians, Rusty and Hubert, to a twenty foot sled. The team stays at the feeding site, sheltered by a log stable that is nestled in a valley close to a small stream that babbles through the deep snow.

The smell of hay, leather and horse manure brought back memories of the late 1940s in South Dakota where I first observed the use of horses, primarily for pulling bundle racks during threshing. A fond recollection of my childhood.

After harnessing up Rusty and Hubert and hooking up the hay sled we crossed the river to the fenced hay storage shed where we loaded up 60 bales of hay. The bales are about 1/3 alfalfa.

Then off we went through the deep snow to the feeding ground about 600 yards away. The elk were waiting, lackadaisically working over the remains of the last feeding. They generally move away from the sled as 10-year-old Dylan drives the team down the feeding line. Meanwhile Doug cuts the twine and pitches the hay off the sled in small bunches.

The wild elk fell in behind the wagon as we passed, each looking for the best forage. Large bulls with magnificent racks, cows with young calves, and yearlings-about 450 proud and graceful wild elk coaxed into the feeding ground by hay provided by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Feeding Elk Winter Work for the Belgians

This scene repeats itself in 22 other feeding grounds in northwest Wyoming because of the loss of native winter range for the elk. This loss occurs because of livestock ranching, roads, human habitation, and other resource harvesting operations, such as mining, oil fields, etc.

The project began in 1910 when the Wyoming legislature first provided funds to feed the elk herd in Jackson Hole.

Feeding is done to keep the elk from grazing with cattle, thus eating the feed of the cattle. It also helps to control brucellosis, a disease that causes cattle to abort their young.

Later on in the winter Doug will vaccinate the yearling elk for brucellosis. This procedure is done with a compressed air rifle that has paint to mark the animal in one barrel and the vaccine in the other barrel. He does only yearlings, shooting them in the hind quarter from 20 to 40 yards.

Feeding Elk Winter Work for the Belgians

Feeding also reduces the number of elk on the highways.

I found the use of Doug’s beautiful Belgian team an exciting example of appropriate technology. I am sure that using the horses saves the Department of Game and Fish a good deal of money on machinery. Using the horses saves both fuel and machinery.

Magical thick fog enveloped us on the morning that I went along – fog so thick that I think fish could swim in it, but the horses had no problem finding the way to the hay and to the feeding ground.

The entire operation was an amazing thing to see. About 22,000 elk are fed. This is about 2/3 of the wild elk in northwestern Wyoming. It is really great to see them and I am glad that the state of Wyoming had the foresight to establish and promote this program and keep this magnificent animal around for us to see and to enjoy.

Feeding Elk Winter Work for the Belgians

Spotlight On: Book Reviews

Posts

Driving Fence Posts By Hand

Where the soil is soft, loose, and free from stone, posts may be driven more easily and firmly than if set in holes dug for the purpose.

Old Man Farming

Old Man Farming

Long after his physical capacities have dwindled to pain and stiffening, what drives the solitary old man to continue bringing in the handful of Guernsey cows to milk?

The Horsedrawn Mower Book

Removing the Wheels from a McCormick Deering No. 9 Mower

How to remove the wheels of a No. 9 McCormick Deering Mower, an excerpt from The Horsedrawn Mower Book.

Build Your Own Earth Oven

An Introduction To Cob

Mixed with sand, water, and straw, a clayey-subsoil will dry into a very hard and durable material; indeed, it was the first, natural “concrete”. In the Americas, we call it “adobe”, which is originally from the Arabic “al-toba”, meaning “the brick.” Invading Moors brought the word to Spain from North Africa, where an ancient mud building tradition continues today.

Haying With Horses

Hitching Horses To A Mower

When hitching to the mower, first make sure it’s on level ground and out of gear. The cutter bar should be fastened up in the vertical or carrier position. This is for safety of all people in attendance during hitching.

Basic Blacksmithing Techniques

Illustrated guide to basic blacksmithing techniques, an excerpt from Blacksmithing: Basics For The Homestead.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 5

You might think that your new farm is fenced all wrong, or that a certain tree is in the wrong place, or that a wet area would be better drained, or that this gully would make a good pond site, or that a depression in the road should be filled, or that the old sheds should all come down right away. Well maybe you’re right on all counts. But maybe, you’re wrong.

How To Dry Up A Doe Goat

How To Dry Up A Doe Goat

You are probably thinking why would I want to dry up a doe? If the plan is to rebreed the doe, then she will need time to rebuild her stamina. Milk production takes energy. Kid production takes energy, too. If the plan is to have a fresh goat in March, then toward the end of October start to dry her up. The first thing to do is cut back on her grain. Grain fuels milk production.

Apples of North America

Freedom has been called the ugly duckling of disease-resistant apple varieties. But that shouldn’t detract from its many merits. These include the freedom from apple-scab infection for which it was named, a high rate of productivity, and an ability to serve as a good pollinator for its more attractive sibling, Liberty.

A Short History of the Horse-Drawn Mower

A Short History of the Horse-Drawn Mower

Book Excerpt: The enclosed gear, late model John Deere, Case, Oliver, David Bradley, and McCormick Deering International mowers I (we) are so fond of had a zenith of popular manufacture and use that lasted just short of 25 years. Millions of farmers with millions of mowers, built to have a serviceable life of 100 plus years, all pushed into the fence rows. I say, it was far too short of a period.

Honoring Our Teachers

Honoring Our Teachers

by:
from issue:

I believe that there exist many great practicing teachers, some of who deliberately set out to become one and others who may have never graduated from college but are none-the-less excellent and capable teachers. I would hazard a guess that many readers of Small Farmer’s Journal know more than one teacher who falls within this latter category. My grandfather, and artist and author Eric Sloane, were two such teachers.

Horse Sense for Plain Farming

Horse Sense for Plain Farming

Book Review – The New Horse-Powered Farm by Stephen Leslie: Working with horses is not something you can learn exclusively through watching DVD training videos and attending workshops and seminars. These things and experiences can be very useful as auxiliary aids to our training, but they cannot replace the value of a long-term relationship with a skilled mentor.

Audels Gardeners and Growers Guide

How to Store Vegetables

Potatoes may be safely stored in bits on a well drained spot. Spread a layer of straw for the floor. Pile the potatoes in a long, rather than a round pile. Cover the pile with straw or hay a foot deep.

One Seed To Another: The New Small Farming

One Seed to Another

One Seed to Another is staggering and bracing in its truths and relevance. This is straight talk from a man whose every breath is poetry and whose heartbeat is directly plugged into farming as right livelihood.

Livestock Guardians

Introducing Your Guard Dog To New Livestock And Other Dogs

When you introduce new animals to an established herd or flock, you should observe your dog’s reactions and behavior for a few days. Since he will be curious anyway, it is a good idea to introduce him to the new animals while he is leashed or to place the new animals in a nearby area.

Work Horse Handbook

The Work Horse Handbook

The decision to depend on horses or mules in harness for farm work, logging, or highway work is an important one and should not be taken lightly. Aside from romantic notions of involvement in a picturesque scene, most of the considerations are serious.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 2

How do you learn the true status of that farm with the “for sale” sign? Here are some important pieces of information for you to learn about a given selling farm. The answers will most probably tell you how serious the seller is.

Why Farm

Farming For Art’s Sake: Farming As An Artform

Farming as a vocation is more of a way of living than of making a living. Farming at its best is an Art, at its worst it is an industry. Farming can be an Art because it allows at every juncture for the farmer to create form from his or her vision.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT