Thursday, 24 April 2014

Happy Environment or Happy Cows? Both?

In our first few months of ownerships, we submitted ourselves to a Riparian Management assessment, courtesy of the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP). This multi-faceted plan allows farmers to have a specialist come by and assess their farm for a variety of targeted areas. In our case, we chose riparian. The Riparian Management Plan was fully subsidized by the government funding for EFP.

Our farm was assessed and despite our fears, we were doing alright. Big things of mention were our horse manure composting and our cow pen. The cow pen was noted as being too close to the water (as in right up to it). The recommended setback for our usage was 30m.

This has been on my task list since. Given that we only have two (maybe three) cattle at a time, we have not pursued it... until now.

Marc has big plans for the farm. He wants to take the existing blueberry fields and expand them further. In order to open up access to the areas we are pulling up some older fences, much of which is still very reusable. This weekend we pulled up a section of fence which really was not serving a purpose.

Marc's depiction of our future plant placement.
Given that we would be pulling up this fencing and more, I have decided to put my mind to how we can arrange this setback. The recommended 30m would cut off a huge chunk of the cow area. Luckily, there is another set back amount of 15m for seasonal pasture. So I drafted a plan...

Existing cow pen totalling over 20,000 sq.ft.
I decided to first section off the 30m setback to see how much space was left. There was a lot. This cut the cow area down to 1/3 of its original size.

Rough draft of new cow pen with 30m setback.
I was stunned at the amount of space we would lose by doing this. So I considered the 15m setback for seasonal pasture. With the amount of rain we get, this would limit the pasture to late spring through to early fall. Here is what I came up with:

Rough draft of new cow pen and seasonal pasture.
The beauty of this is the ground is soft enough we can put the posts in with little effort. Also, we will have plenty of pencil posts for this project. This means our only costs will be the wire fencing and the nails to attach it.

I'm stretching it a bit as we have a small stream off of the north part of the pen and it does curve around the fence line. Most of this is uphill from the cow area and we had discussed possible plans to bury it underground via a long culvert.

I have sent this picture off to our adviser to give me suggestions on whether or not this would fit with the recommendations or not. I have also submitted it to the team to see if this is something they can get behind. Odds are I would do the pen first and pasture later as materials permit.

Maybe our cows can be as happy as our environment...


If you are looking for more information on the Environmental Farm Plan mentioned above, check out the following site:

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