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GRANT: It’s February 1st and storm clouds are starting to pass the Proving Grounds. I got to tell you, the weather forecast – and I think sometimes they hype it up. But man, they’re calling for ice and snow and sub-zero windchill and temps in the low single digits. They’re talking about a brutal arctic front passing through the Midwest.
GRANT: Just yesterday – and I don’t have any footage. I was in my pickup. I saw two bucks chasing a doe. Probably a, you know, a large female fawn – antlers on all of them.
GRANT: And there just getting it going. And they’re burning a lot of calories still. They probably haven’t recovered from the rut.
GRANT: Our habitat is so good here at the Proving Grounds, even though we’re in the Midwest and basically closed canopy forest, everywhere around us are, you know, fescue pasture. No real habitat there for whitetails or turkeys.
GRANT: Our fawns are so health here that they easily reach that 70 pounds and reach puberty, you know, from late December until now, even into early March. Those bucks are working hard.
GRANT: And this kind of brutal temperature is coming in, single digits, below zero windchill for multiple days, not just one day. Well, that’s tough conditions.
GRANT: Making it worse, there’s going to be a covering of ice according to the weather folks. And if we look down here, we’ll show you. Man, there’s cereal rye and winter wheat. Some of the oats got knocked out and lots of clover. Our clover is two or three inches all – two inches tall and super lush.
GRANT: I mean, and again, there’s – there hasn’t been any fertilizer here or lime here. We’ve just built this on a rock pile, literally. But that doesn’t matter if it’s covered with an inch or two ice. Whitetails are not going to paw through that.
GRANT: And that’s the real reason when I design blends, I try to have a grain, like you’re seeing this milo in here. Man, it looks really good. And we’ll pitch a drone across here. But on the edges were deer are coming out of timber, they’ve ate it off 10 or 15 yards off either side. But the center of the field, this looks like a Kansas milo field.
GRANT: But I’ve got all kinds of green below it. And that’s why I like blends. Polycultures, or many species, not only does that do wonders for the soil. A monoculture is never as good for soil health as a polyculture.
GRANT: But this standing grain, which deer have been eating the edges, but it’s been warm so, they’ve been preferring greens. When there’s six inches of snow on the ground, this is going to pay major dividends.
GRANT: And we’ve shared this graph before, but we want deer, you know, gaining through the growing season and then level, if we can, through the winter, not diving way down and having to play catch up in the spring when they should be taking off that level spot and getting larger.
GRANT: More fawns, better milk, larger antlers – just in general, a healthier deer herd.
GRANT: Now, this milo may get a little ice on it. But that’s going to thaw when the sun is hitting on here quicker than this ice and snow is going to melt on the ground.
GRANT: Acorns are all gone, at least here, this time of year. We didn’t have that great a crop this year due to a late freeze last year.
GRANT: But this milo is going to be here, and I promise you, hopefully, we’ll have time to get back and show you the tracks in the snow. I’m not saying we will, but hopefully, we will. But high energy. Good carbohydrates.
GRANT: Deer have that big rumen, and it puts off a lot of heat. So, they’re going to be able to stay warm just by getting in the cover which isn’t very far over here.
GRANT: When this thaws off just enough to crunch this, they’re going to get out and eat this milo, somewhat similar to corn, and just load up on that and all those microbes in their body are breaking that down. And that’s not only providing nutrients, but heat – body heat – for that critter.
GRANT: Speaking of microbes heating stuff up, I don’t think I’ve stressed enough, but the same thing is happening in soil. When you’ve got a really actively growing crop like I have here. And insulation.
GRANT: Of course, last year’s crop is laying there in mulch. That’s what’s suppressed weeds. And obviously, we didn’t use a herbicide, because we’ve got all this milo here. And then, we’ve got a good crop growing.
GRANT: Now, I didn’t have any fertilizer costs, no herbicide cost. I’ve got grain – enough to make me into February really good – carry the deer herd. Plenty of greens.
GRANT: And as soon as that ice and snow is off, it’s going to green up. It’s really inexpensive and those microbes below this are heating up the soil.
GRANT: So, what we commonly see is snow and ice melt off of our food plots a bit quicker than they do my yard or leaf litter in the timber because these microbes are respirating also. They’re just – they’re putting off heat. And the more microbes you have, they break down, literally rock or nutrients in the soil and make it in a form that plants can absorb.
GRANT: And part of that process that’s super beneficial to plants, is also providing heat. So, my clover is going to green up quicker than if you just really disc your field and you’ve got sterile soil. And all of a sudden it snows, or ice is on it – maybe you’re my neighbor and you just disc a lot.
GRANT: And, you know, you grew a crop, but your soil is not very healthy, all those microbes and earthworms and, you know, little insects in the soil here – they’re respirating, they’re working, they’re moving. They’re going to warm up the soil quicker. And I’m going to get an extra couple of days of growth out of my crop here.
GRANT: And that can really mean the difference of more milk for that doe nursing fawns or bigger antlers at the same age class. I mean, who doesn’t want, you know, a 140 as a three-year-old versus a 140 as a five-year-old. A lot can happen to a deer between three and five.
GRANT: So, it’s not just all about antlers, but antlers get a lo of people’s attention. I’m looking for healthy soil which allows a healthy deer herd and a byproduct of that is large antlers for the age class.
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GRANT: Storm clouds are rolling. And we probably need to get out of here. We’ve got to get this to the editor. Because they’re talking about some big power outages. So, to get an episode out for y’all, we’ve got to get this to the editor, and he can do his magic before the power gets out.
GRANT: Don’t worry about it. I’ve got a bunch of dry oak in my garage. Power or no power, I’ve got venison and I’ve got firewood. I’m going to be okay.
GRANT: But I’m just going to pull up a stalk here. This is a smaller one. The soil is not very cold to the touch. You can’t tell it through the camera but look at all the roots. Look how dark that soil is.
GRANT: I mean, compare it to my coat. I have a black coat on. Compare that. Super rich soil. This was the oaks like you may see in the background and cedar trees and gnarliness.
GRANT: We call this area Prickly Pear. Because there was literally prickly pear cactus growing on this ridge top because it was so dry. And everyone’s like, “You’re going to try to create a food plot there?”
GRANT: I mean, Iowa dirt is any blacker than that. And that’s a lot of carbon and soil that the plants during the summer and sun hemp and other things that are in here photosynthesize and took carbon out of the air – a wonderful thing to put in the dirt.
GRANT: And then, you see how green this is, the cereal rye, the winter wheat, the clovers, the brassicas. Deer have eaten a lot of the brassicas we had in here.
GRANT: They were photosynthesizing all winter long at a slower rate because there’s not as much sun during the day. Now the days are getting longer, and the clover is, what we call, popping, coming on. And they’re still working that soil, feeding the microbes.
GRANT: Remember, my underground herb – the microbes in the soil – do all the work. This gets the glory, but this is just feeding the microbes. And I’m feeding the microbes even in these tough conditions. So, when spring comes, fertilizer’s ready. The land has been aerated, or disced, if you will.
GRANT: But with these big roots growing, if I disc, I’m just going to collapse all those pores. All of this, I could go on and on, results in less expense and healthier deer.
GRANT: Hey, if you want to learn more about our techniques, actually see it, see the dirt, see the actual blends, ask me questions, ask Daniel question, ask Keith Burns and others that are going to be here questions, visit with the GrowingDeer ProStaff, join us March 25th and 26th for the 2022 Spring Field Event.
GRANT: Now, it’s going to fill up quick -only 100 slots. But join us. We’ll put a link on the screen here and stay safe during this storm. It’s going to be pretty broad, they’re saying. And pretty impactful.
GRANT: It’s a great time to get outside if you can do it safely. Don’t be driving on ice. And enjoy Creation. And more importantly, take that quiet time to intentionally seek the Creator’s will for your life.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.