Palmyra – Three generations of Brattset ladies are caring for the land on a 290-acre diversified farm at Palmyra. Today, the farm formally consists of Kirsten, Pat, Jessica and Jacob Jurcek and Damon, Trish and Bethany Brattset.
The farm consists of 146 acres of organically managed crop/pasture land plus restored prairies, woodland, wooded wetland, wildlife ponds and wildlife habitat.
Besides direct advertising meat from a herd of 100 % grass-fed and completed beef cattle additionally they have pastured hogs, seasonal poultry flocks, seasonally milked dairy cows and a Silvoculture nut and fruit tree planting.
Winonna Brattset and her late husband, Harold, purchased the farm in 1968. Before they took possession, it had been certainly one of many farms owned by an out-of-town investor who had tenants dwelling on the farm and caring for the land.
The couples did in depth transforming of the buildings and have been typical, diversified farmers for a few years. Along the best way, Brattset developed an actual love for the land that included the second highest hill in Jefferson County the place she might enjoy the view of the Kettle Moraine forest on one aspect and the Palmyra Marsh on the opposite with quite a few farms throughout.
Convert to natural
In 2002 when her husband handed away, Winonna continued to farm on her personal and began changing the farm to natural, getting licensed in 2008.
She was having problem finding natural feed and cropping provides within the space, so her daughter Kirstin and her husband Pat purchased Frank’s Mill in Jefferson and commenced offering natural provides to farmers and conducting instructional workshops.
Eventually they bought the mill and moved again residence to assist Brattset with managing the farm.
“We began the process of converting the farm to grazing because it was easier to take the kids along to move fences than to figure out what to do with them when I drove tractor,” Kirsten stated.
Her daughter, Jessica, is in highschool and contributes considerably to serving to her mom and grandma with managing the cattle on the farm.
It was a pure for Kirsten since her job away from the farm is as grazing specialist, serving to different farmers develop grazing techniques.
“The goal on this farm is to never plow again,” Kirsten said. “If we do, we are destroying the home of all the critters in the soil who work for us.”
Besides the opposite livestock, Winona additionally cares for horses on the farm for the Racers Pacers program.
An area beekeeper advantages from their quite a few conservation practices and the prairie they developed 16 years in the past by protecting his bee hives on the farm.
Host many excursions
During a tour for “Women Caring for the Land Network” and Farmers Union, Brattset defined the conservation highlights on the farm.
“We established a conservation easement that is held by the Drumlin Area Land Trust on the farm and part of the land is in the Ag Enterprise Area,” she stated.
Kirsten pointed to the advantages of rotational grazing fairly than permit the animals to graze a whole space completely.
“We do not rotate the horses, but they eat the grass too low and leave only weeds that they don’t like,” she stated. “It can be higher to graze the horses 15 days after which transfer them and let the pasture relaxation.
Their 90 head of combined breed beef cattle graze on paddocks and are rotated day by day by shifting the moveable fence.
She stated rotation is necessary for sustaining the species of grass and legumes which might be desired for the cattle, however simply as essential, it’s useful for the animal well being.
“When you retain the grass somewhat larger and don’t graze too low there are fewer issues with parasites,” Kirsten said. “Parasites wish to reside on the decrease portion of the grass.”
She additionally pointed out that grass is sort of a photo voltaic collector, and leaving it larger encourages it to develop again extra shortly. It additionally shades the bottom so moisture stays in and the grasses last more.
“The shade is essential as a result of the bottom soaks up warmth from the solar and roots die at 105 levels,” Kirsten stated.
She routinely interseeds each few years, and within the yr when she can be interseeding, she permits the cattle to graze a paddock slightly decrease so the seed makes higher soil contact.
Kirsten will clip fields when weeds develop into an issue, notably in the course of the lush spring season.
“If the cattle graze evenly, we don’t clip,” she added.
On one far pasture, they drilled a properly that has a photo voltaic powered pump. Water flows by gravity to the varied waterers situated within the pasture.
Pastures on their farm are scattered round with patches of prairie and a silvaculture planting of fruit and nut timber in between.
The silvaculture planting was carried out by somebody who leases the land to determine his timber. In in the future, he established 11,000 seedlings within the parcel. He maintains them and crops cut-flowers round them annually to promote on the native farmers market. He will profit from the harvest of the nuts and fruit from the timber.
Under this technique, grass is maintained between the timber, and when the timber are large enough, they’ll present shade for animals on pasture.
A portion of the land is owned collectively by Kirsten and her brother, they usually established a prairie within the land that’s within the Conservation Reserve Program.
“It is excellent for pollinators. We have found we now have a lot of meadowlarks and bobolinks,” she stated. “We’re beginning to have problems with box elders getting started, so we will need to control them. We also need to schedule a controlled burn to get rid of the buckthorn.”
The household believes they’ve developed a system that’s higher for the land than merely leaving the land sit idle. When land shouldn’t be utilized for grazing, invasives can take over.
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