SFJ

Facebook  YouTube

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

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: Farming Systems & Approaches

Chicken Guano: Top-Notch Fertilizer

Whoever thought I’d be singing the praises of chicken poop? I am, and I’m not the only one. Chickens are walking nitrogen-rich manure bins.

Cultivating Questions Cultivator Setups and Deer Fencing

Cultivating Questions: Cultivator Set-ups and Deer Fencing

We know all too well the frustration of putting your heart and soul into a crop only to have the wildlife consume it before you can get it harvested let alone to market. Our farm sits next to several thousand acres of state game lands and is the only produce operation in the area. As you can imagine, deer pressure can be intense. Neighbors have counted herds of 20 or more in our pastures.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 4

Assuming that you’ve found a farm you want to buy, next you’ll need to determine if you can buy it. If you have sold your property, and/or saved your money, and have the means to buy the farm you are sitting pretty. If you do not have the full price of a considered farm, in cash or any other form, you will likely have to look for financing.

Horse Farming and Holistic Management

Horse Farming and Holistic Management

by:
from issue:

Holistic Management was developed by Allan Savory who was a wildlife and ranch biologist in Africa who was concerned that the advice he could give farmers didn’t work in the real environment and even when the advice was good it wouldn’t get implemented. He developed a program which helps farms create a clear Holistic Goal and then use the farms resources to move toward the goal while being ecologically sustainable.

Mayfield Farm

Mayfield Farm, New South Wales, Australia

by:
from issue:

Mayfield Farm is a small family owned and operated mixed farm situated at 1150 m above sea level on the eastern edge of the Great Dividing Range in northern New South Wales, Australia. Siblings, Sandra and Ian Bannerman, purchased the 350 acre property in October, 2013, and have converted it from a conventionally operated farm to one that is run on organic principles. Additional workers on the farm include Janette, Ian’s wife, and Jessica, Ian’s daughter.

A Year of Contract Grazing

A Year of Contract Grazing

by:
from issue:

Contract grazing involves the use of livestock to control specific undesirable plants, primarily for ecological restoration and wildfire prevention purposes. The landowners we worked for saw grazing as an ecologically friendly alternative to mowing, mechanical brush removal, and herbicide application.

Barnyard Manure

Barnyard Manure

by:
from issue:

The amount of manure produced must be considered in planning a cropping system for a farm. If one wishes to manure one-fifth of the land every year with 10 tons per acre, there would have to be provided two tons per year for each acre of the farm. This would require about one cow or horse, or equivalent, for each six acres of land.

Cultivating Questions Ridge-Till Revisited

Cultivating Questions: Ridge-Till Revisited

Delay ridge building until early fall so that the cover crop on the ridge does not grow more than 12” tall before winter. The residues from a short cover crop will be much less challenging to cultivate than a tall stand of oats, especially if tangly field peas are mixed in. Waiting for the winterkilled cover crop residues to breakdown as long as possible before ridge-tilling in the spring will also make cultivation much easier until you gain familiarity with the system.

Cultivating Questions Going Single

Cultivating Questions: Going Single

Going single did not occur to us until we began receiving questions from prospective teamsters who felt it would be more manageable and economical to get started with a single horse than a team. After 29 years of market gardening with two or more horses, our impetus to try out one-horse farming was not a question of management or economy, but due to the radically diverging horse temperaments on our farm.

Useful Birds

Useful Birds

by:
from issue:

Whether a bird is beneficial or injurious depends almost entirely upon what it eats. Birds are often accused of eating this or that product of cultivation, when an examination of the stomachs shows the accusation to be unfounded. Accordingly, the Biological Survey has conducted for some years past a systematic investigation of the food of those species which are most common about the farm and garden.

New York Organic Grazing Dairy

New York Organic Grazing Dairy

by:
from issue:

Our farm, here in the center of New York State, consists of 101 acres, about 90 in grass, the rest some woods and swamp. It is inhabited by forty-six jersey cows, twelve breeding ace heifers, one bull, and because it is calving season — an increasing number of calves. Also, four Belgian mares and a couple of buggy horses. Last, and possibly least — the farmer, farmer’s wife, and five grown children.

The Farmer and the Horse

The Farmer & The Horse

In New Jersey — land of The Sopranos, Jersey Shore, and the Turnpike — farmland is more expensive than anywhere else. It’s not an easy place to try to start a career as a farmer. But for a new generation of farmers inspired by sustainability, everything seems possible. Even a farm powered by draft horses.

No Starving Children!

You’d never be able to harvest the broccoli or the hay or milk the cows or make the cheese if it were subject to government process. Not only are our industrial farms too big…

Cultivating Questions Winterkilled Cover Crops for a Mild Climate Part 2

Cultivating Questions: Winterkilled Cover Crops For A Mild Climate Part 2

Finding just the right cover crop-tillage combination for crops planted the last half of June has always been a real challenge in our location. While surface-tilling mature rye and vetch in May works well for fall crops established in July and August, this cover crop-tillage combo does not allow enough time for decomposition and moisture accumulation for end-of-June plantings.

Low Tillage Radish Onions

Low Tillage Radish Onions

by:
from issue:

The radishes came up quick, filling the garden canopy completely that fall, and the following spring we found the plot was clean of weeds and rows of open holes were left where the radish roots had been growing. Well, we had a few extra onion plants that spring and decided to plant them in these holes, since we already had very clear lines laid out for us and a clean seedbed. What we got were the best looking onions that have ever come out of our gardens.

Horsedrawn No-Till Garlic

Horsedrawn No-Till Garlic

We were inspired to try no-tilling vegetables into cover crops after attending the Groffs’ field day in 1996. No-tilling warm season vegetables has proved problematic at our site due to the mulch of cover crop residues keeping the soil too cool and attracting slugs. We thought that no-tilling garlic into this cover crop of oats and Canadian field peas might be the ticket as garlic seems to appreciate being mulched.

Hand-Harvested Food Challenge

The Hand-Harvested Food Challenge

by:
from issue:

In the winter of 2011, Daniel mentioned a fourteen-year-old student of his who had spent a whole month eating only foods gathered from the wild. “Could we go for two days on the hand-harvested food we have here?’ he asked. “Let’s give it a try!” I responded with my usual enthusiasm. We assembled the ingredients on the table. Everything on that table had passed through our hands. We knew all the costs and calories associated with it. No hidden injustice, no questionable pesticides. We felt joy at living in such an edible world.

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