When most people think of ‘summer,’ they think about the growing season, beaches, thrift sales and cookouts. The lucky ones also know it means pasture walk season.
I discovered pasture walks during my stint writing for an agricultural newspaper straight out of college. They are, in my humble opinion, every nosy farmer’s dream – a chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at how fellow farmers are managing their land and animals. Just as it sounds, attendees amble out into the pasture for a look at the grazing practices the host farmer is using to manage his or her livestock and land.
Aside from the delight they bring to the curious-at-heart, pasture walks are a step forward for conservation education and a practical learning tool for farmers, which is why Wisconsin Farmers Union has partnered this year with River Country RC&D to host 10 walks around western Wisconsin.
The first event is coming up this Wednesday, June 14 with a twilight walk at 6:30pm at John Accola’s farm, S363 Cty. Rd. Y, Mondovi.
The Broken Oak Acres beef herd began in 2001 with 6 cows with heifer calves at their side. John started out with a registered Black Angus herd and has added Red Angus. He utilizes rotational grazing and about 5 years ago added a traveling-gun irrigation system to increase grazing production.
John produces most of his corn and hay, has experimented with sorghum and flax, and recently incorporated winter rye into corn stalk stubble.
To get to the farm, from Eleva take Hwy 93 south to Cty Rd Y. Turn right and continue on Y approx 5 miles. John’s farm is on the right hand side of Cty Rd Y. If you reach Norden Road you have gone 1/8 of a mile too far.
I hope you consider joining us at one or more of the upcoming walks. I learn something new at each walk I attend. Let’s face it – farmers are, by nature, nifty trouble-shooters. At past walks I’ve seen homemade water tank floats, smart seeding strategies, ingenious water line routing solutions and have enjoyed soaking up every morsel of wisdom farmers are willing to share about making their animals healthier, conserving the land and improving the bottom line.
Did I mention that the local Farmers Union chapter will be providing pie for a networking social after each of these walks?
Pastures and pies. There’s probably a pun there, but we’ll leave it be.
Other upcoming events include:
Wed., June 28, 6:30pm Twilight Walk, Ben Mrdutt farm, E3861 1220th Ave, Boyceville. Beef cow calf and Grazing in the Red Cedar Watershed.
Sat., July 8, 9:30am-12pm, Dave and Will Peasley farm, N7271 State Hwy 12, Black River Falls. Pasture layout and land conservation projects to move cattle to grazing acres.
Sat., July 21, 10am-4pm, Mark and Heather Flashinski’s Farm Sweet Farm, 16294 250th St., Cadott. Multi-species 15-year grazing operation and the GrassWorks Annual Picnic.
Sat., Aug. 12, 1-3pm, Randy and Liz Mittag farm, N6834 County Road E, River Falls. Grazing system establishment and dealing with excess flooding, establishing waterways, beef cow-calf and Hereford genetics.
Sat., Aug. 19, 10am-12pm, Brad Midtling, Townside Jerseys, 2891 U.S. Hwy. 12, Wilson. Lane improvements and organic dairy.
Tues., Aug. 29, 6:30pm, Ashly and Stacy Steinke, Sedge Wood Farms, 30101 190th Ave., Cornell. The beginning stages of starting a beef farm and conversion from row crops to grass pasture.
Fri., Sept. 8, 12-3pm, Joe and Kristy (Rosemary) Lulich, 63375 U.S. Hwy. 63, Mason. Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Program and pasture layout improvements.
Sat., Sept. 23, 11am-3pm, Charles Flodquist and John Richmond, 12454 20th St., Colfax. Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Program, farm transition tips and the River Country RC&D Annual Picnic.
Sat., Oct. 28, 10am-12pm, Brad and Melissa Larson, N10688 Cty. Rd. M, Colfax. Fall cover crops and how they fit in with a grazing operation.
Please RSVP to Mary C. Anderson at 715-579-2206. Learn more at www.wisconsinfarmersunion.com or www.rivercountryrcd.org.