Thursday, April 30, 2020

An Ode to Grass

(post by Jason) Since this is a horse blog it’s no surprise that we talk a lot about caring for the horses entrusted to us by their owners. It may come as a surprise that in spite of sixteen hundred or more blog posts....most of them directly related to horses....our success in caring for our charges has at least as much to do with the grass growing on this farm as it does anything else that we do.

There are two terrestrial...that is land based.....biomes that are warm enough and wet enough to support unirrigated agriculture. Of these two biomes grasslands have better, more naturally fertile soils than do forest biomes by far. The reason for this mostly has to do with the rate and volume of decay. Believe it or not, due to the fact that most grasses die back to the ground every fall in temperate regions, the weight and volume of material that is available to decay and build soil  is actually far greater in grasslands than it is any temperate season forest where trees may well live for centuries. We call this decayed vegetation organic matter. As organic matter levels increase so does soil water holding capacity, soil fertility, soil aeration, and every other matter related to plant health and plant nutrient uptake. If we have healthy soil the plants that grow on said soil will also be healthy, thick and lush. So it goes for the animals that graze upon the plants that grow on healthy soil. Like most things in the natural world this is a cyclical cycle.

The very best way to maintain healthy animals is to have healthy soils and the very best way to have healthy soils is to have healthy grass. 
If soil building, which in this instance means maintaining and enhancing soil fertility in a natural manner, is an integral part of sustainable agriculture, it is my belief that we as a society will have to rely heavily on crop rotations that involve many years of grass for each year soil is put to the plow to grow any sort of grain crop. Since humans don't have digestive systems designed to utilize grass in an effective manner, if we are to utilize all the grasslands in America effectively we will have to use livestock and horses to do so. As such, I think the future for a very different brand of equine that is respectful of the animal and it's natural cycle in improving the grass and the strong. We practice this concept every day here at Paradigm Farms.

In industrial agricultural settings today, it's common to talk about grasslands as being inherently less productive than land planted to corn, beans, wheat, etc.   Less productive than what? Using what metrics of measurement? I’d say that's more of a commentary on the persons issuing the proclamations than it actually is on the long term productivity of well managed grasslands. That’s especially true if you believe that soil under grass is constantly improving, whereas bare soil or soil under crops is deteriorating at some level.

At the end of the day every successful agricultural operation I’ve been a a part of in the last fifteen years relies heavily on grass as it's foundation. Despite the number of cows we used to raise I never really was a beef farmer and despite the number of horses we board today we’re not really horse farmers either. What Melissa and I really do is manage grass. If we manage it correctly the animals we also manage will thrive. It’s a dance we’ve done for decades and it’s one that can always be improved. There are many things that influence the outcome and productivity of grasslands. Some are well within our control and others are completely out of our hands. We work with what we can and I am going to expand on this topic further in future blogs.

Bear, Quigly and Happy

Doni and Silver

Romeo and Lotus

George and Moses

Gibson and Ralph

Donneur, George and Moses

Doni and Fendi

Cocomo and Gus

George, Ralph and Fendi


Indy and Happy

Ascot and Taco

Sam and Johnny

Elf and Blu


B-Rad and Paramount

Sebastian and Lighty

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Sunday Stills

Maddie and Diamond

Missy, Cinnamon and Jake

the perfect lineup of horses and horse names; Maddie, Maggie and Maggie

Jake and Gracie

Cuffie and Diamond

Penny and Charlotte


Lily and Maisie

Traveller and Maddie

Havana, Bruno and Cody

Remmy and Duesy

Merlin and Art

Alfie and Taylor

Sport and Dooley

Baner and Cody


several pictures of Sport and Cody being wild . . . 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

The COVID Diaries Jason Volume

The COVID Diaries Jason Volume
The hardest part about COVID 19 is that in some ways our daily routine really hasn’t changed very much.
If all goes as normal we get up in the morning, feed and thoroughly check the horses, have breakfast, work at whatever outside task presents itself through the morning, have lunch, repeat working at outside tasks, do chores, have supper, and end the day.
We have not had any issues getting an appointment with our vet when one is needed. Ditto for farriers. Ordering feed and getting it delivered is no problem. We really haven’t even had much problem getting Amazon orders delivered. I can go to our local Co-op and if I call ahead and pay over the phone by credit card or leave a cheque on the dock, they will have my zero contact order sitting on the dock waiting for me when I pull up.
We just can’t easily leave the farm. Or rather, if we’re going to take social distancing seriously we have to plan out where we’re going and try our best to minimize or eliminate any direct contact we have with other people. We also have to remember to tote hand sanitizer along with us. Or gloves. And masks in various iterations. Honestly it’s usually easier to try to have a no contact order than it is to remember to do all the things we have to do in order to have even modest contact with other people.
People have asked what I miss most about the time before COVID 19. They’re usually surprised at my answer. Largely I don’t miss people or hugging or parties or other social interactions. I farm for a reason and I am very much at home with my own company. Being alone with my thoughts on a large land base isn’t hard on me mentally, even for extended periods of time. Melissa perhaps feels less like this than I do.  I enjoy having Carter around on the farm all the time. We have our moments to be sure, but probably no more than we had when he spent much of his day a mile away in school.

What I miss, perhaps more than anything else, is the ability to get in a vehicle without arduous mental and physical preparations and go to a store, buy what I want in a quick and painless transaction and come home. It matters not one whit whether the store in question is Kroger for groceries, NAPA for auto parts or hydraulic hoses, or any of the innumerable farm parts places I frequent, ESPECIALLY when I can’t call ahead because I’m not exactly sure what parts I want or need. In this respect COVID 19 has turned this part of my life into a royal pain in the rear.
What parts of your life do you want back most?

Wilson, Squirrel and Rubrico

Squirrel and Rubrico

Roho and Gus


Rocky and Toledo

Franklin, Sushi and Roho

Rey and Trigger

Convey and Chance

King and Revy

Moe and Inti

Cisco and Thomas

Baby and Hemi

Hemi and Apollo

Levendi and Moe

Ricardo and Faisal