Pasture Tour — Upper Fields


There are three upper pasture areas at Sassafras Farm, but only two of these pastures are realistically usable, I’ve concluded after my further explorations. One of the areas is on the other side of a deep ravine with a massive rock wall. Obviously, it’s not connected by gate to the other pastures (which would be impossible), and it’s not currently fenced at all. It’s a mess, and of no particular use at the moment, even for potential haying. Sometime when I have nothing else to do, I’ll ponder what can be done with it, but for now it has left my radar picture. (The only way to even get animals to it–or to get PEOPLE to it–is by the road.)

The other two viable upper pastures are connected by gate to gate to gate all the way back to the barn.

They are beautiful pastures, albeit in a slightly neglected state at the moment. They can be recovered for use without too much effort.

There is a mix of fencing in these fields, mostly woven wire, along with horse tape in some areas, and evidence of past electric fencing. These two fields total somewhere in the neighborhood of at least 25 acres.

I’ve walked the first pasture fenceline completely. Most of it is sound, but the woven wire fencing is down in multiple locations where either a deer went through it or a tree fell on it. Repairing the woven wire fencing isn’t necessary, however, as these are intended for cow fields. I’ll be running electric around the first pasture as soon as possible in the spring and getting the cows up there.

I’m not quite sure how much pasture my relatively tiny herd of cows will require (and I’ve never had this much available to me before), so this will be a learning year in many ways.

Since I’m not milking BP this year, I have some time to figure on my milking situation with cows in pasture on the hill all summer. It won’t be an issue this year. One idea is to set up a summer milking parlor in a small covered shed in or near the upper pasture, or in the park field below it and directly adjacent. There is also another pasture area I’ll be talking about in the next pasture tour post that would make taking her to the barn to milk convenient. In the winters, I’ll be keeping BP in the rear barn yard, so it’s not an issue for all year. One way or another, I’ll figure something out when the time comes. I’m glad I have lots of time to prepare, make plans, and try out ideas. In general, from my past experience with milking, I’ve found summer milking to be the easiest in terms of setup. It’s dry, so a summer milk station near a pasture can work. In early spring, late fall, and winter, a milking station in a reliably dry area is necessary, so my barn parlor is crucial. I’ll learn more this year as I deal with the cows here and ponder my requirements.

I haven’t walked the entire fenceline in the second upper pasture due to time and weather, but I suspect it’s in a similar condition as the first upper pasture. I’ll run electric in the second field to prepare for rotating the cows there. I may also be able to use this pasture for hay. I’m just not sure yet. The second upper pasture is where I found the two lonely apple trees.

There’s also an old deer stand there.

Maybe the apple trees were planted to attract the deer, and so they built the deer stand here!

Hmmm. I still think those apple trees are in an odd place. Sure is gonna be tough on Morgan hiking out there to pick apples and haul the buckets home.

Morgan? Morgan?

Okay, never mind.

Back to the upper pastures–I’m in love with them. Amazed by them. Can’t wait to see the cows on them. This kind of pasture is unimaginable to me in my farming experience, and I’m overwhelmed with appreciation that they are at my disposal. I’m going to make good use of them!

Coming up on the pasture tour–the disconnected, odd, and almost excessive extra pastures. I’ll explain in the next post!


  1. bonita says:

    My spatial skills are not sharp, so perhaps you’ve already explained the answer to this question. If so, sorry. Cows are really creature of habit–I’ve seen cows come, from far afield, and on their own, to the barn at milking time. Is there a way the milking cows can get from their pasture to the barn, or a field adjacent to the barn, on their own or do closed gates form necessary barriers? That way milking could take place int he barn!.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      For BP to get to the barn from the upper pastures, she’d have to go through the park field, where sheep might be grazing, and the goat yard, where the goats will be. I could lead her through there, opening and closing the gates, but that would be a hassle, especially getting her through the goat yard with the goats trying to go through the gate with her. There’s a gate to the upper pasture that opens directly into the yard behind the studio and I could take her from there and walk her to the barn without going through the other fields, but it would be kinda far to walk her–and walk her back after. I would probably rather set up a small summer milking shelter near the studio and just take her out there. I’d have access to electricity for the milking machine from the studio. There’s also another field I haven’t talked about yet that’s closer to the barn, so there are several options. I won’t have to worry about it this year, so I’ll have time to think on it more.

  2. native daughter says:

    The land is amazing. So beautiful. :fairy:

  3. Busy Solitude Farm says:

    Is there a water source up there, or will you have to schlepp? It’s a beautiful landscape and I’m sure BP and Glory Bee will be very happy up there!

  4. SarahGrace says:

    What beautiful land! You have so many options and I hope you enjoy figuring it all out this year.

  5. LauraP says:

    While I don’t have a good perspective on the linear distances from furthest fenced pasture to the barn at your place, perhaps it’ll be helpful to know that here it’s not an issue at all for my milker to travel from the far back corner a half mile away, through two pastures to get to the barn for milking . . . twice daily when the season and grass availability dictates. She and her little herd of beef cows and calves generally are waiting at the barn door at the proper time, and everybody gets a tasty snack. The same’s true for the quarter mile trip from the far corner of the front pasture to the gate nearest the barn on that side, and I just have to let her through the gate and follow her up the driveway, across the yard, to the milking stand in the barn. She bothers nothing