Compost is the ultimate fertilizer! It contains virtually all the nutrients a living plant needs and delivers them in a slow-release manner over a period of years. Compost made with a wide variety of ingredients will provide an even more nutritious meal to your growing plants. How it works: Compost serves primarily as a soil conditioner, whether it’s spread in a layer on the soil surface or is dug in. A soil regularly amended with compost is better able to hold air and water, drains more efficiently, and contains a nutrient re-serve that plants can draw on. The amended soil also tends to produce plants with fewer insect and disease problems. The compost encourages a larger population of beneficial soil microorganisms, which control harmful microorganisms. It also fosters healthy plant growth, and healthy plants are better able to resist pests. On the garden: Some people recommend late fall as a good time to spread compost over a garden bed (about 1 inch), and cover it with a winter mulch. If your supply of compost is really limited, consider side-dressing, a way to use compost sparingly by strategically placing it around certain plants or along certain rows. By spring, soil organisms will have worked the compost into the soil. There is really no wrong time to spread it. The benefits remain the same. Around trees: compost mulch can benefit trees and shrubs just as it does other plants. Spread a 1/2” to 1” layer of compost on the bare soil under the tree as far as the drip line. Then cover with a 2-3” layer of some other kind of organic mulch. The mulch will hold the compost in place and keep it from drying out. Fence line weaning Try fence line weaning or two-step weaning to reduce the stress on beef calves when you wean them this year. It could improve the health and performance of the calf. First, place cow-calf pairs in the pasture the calves will be in following weaning so they become familiar with the fences and water sources. Second, upon weaning, place the cows in the pasture adjacent to the calves so they cannot nurse the calves, but can still see, hear and smell each other. This may require some fence modification to keep cows and calves separated. Page wire and electric work well when calves are trained to the electric fence—the key is to maintain separation.