Typically, by now the hot summer days would be baking the ground and causing lots of dust on every road and trail. We were fortunate to get our hay crop in when we did because the last two weeks has had many muggy days with light rain showers or thunderheads looming. We are still lower than average for the total amount of rainfall for the year so this dampness a welcomed opportunity for the newly planted seedlings, and for the fields.
It is a different story for those who have not yet been able to get their harvests completed. In the valley, the grass seed farmers have had their fields swathed (cut down) during this stretch where the crop is supposed to be drying, but the ongoing moist days are keeping the ground beneath the wind-rows damp and threatening to rot the crop before the drying can occur. The farmers are starting to doubt their ability to get the crops harvested.
Our far field that was the first one cut for hay, has greened up considerably with the moisture so we moved the main herd back over there to eat the new grass rather than letting it go to the resident elk herds.
There is enough new growth out in the field and around the brush at the tree line to keep the main herd busy for a week to ten days. These are valuable days that we will not have to feed the limited supply of the harvest from the barn, and easing the worries about the harvest being enough to supply the cows through the winter months.
Critters have their own way of dealing with weather. Thunderstorms with bouts of heavy rain brought the two remaining bulls from the bull pen, out of the comfort of the barn, and out under the big leaf maple tree.
The two bulls were not so worried about the showers as they were waiting for the leaves to grow heavy with rain so they drooped low enough to snag a tasty morsel.
Bull #35 figured out the plan first. As the rain came down, he stood near the electric fence with his backside toward the trunk of the maple tree. He stood in one place for about 20 minutes, but I could tell he was thinking about his snack because he was licking his chops and swinging his tail the whole time.
The rain continued, the leaves and entire branches got heavier and heavier with moisture and began to sag.
As the branches got lower, he was able to stretch up, curl his tongue around a few leaves at a time and give a good yank. He would get only a mouthful at a time while getting a cool and refreshing shower. The dampness didn’t deter him from enjoying the wet and tasty maple leaves. The other bull joined him when he realized he was missing a tasty treat.
We have finished with the hay harvest on all the fields except the very last 6 acre field. This horseshoe shaped piece is surrounded by the meandering river on all but about sixty yards across the small neck of the field. It stays damp from the effects of the river and grows the thickest grass on the whole farm. It is the field that must have the most sunlight and warm days to complete the drying process so we can only cut the grass when the forecast calls for at least five days in a row with optimum weather.
For the last week, the forecast has called for rain and possible thunderstorms to roll through the area for anywhere between two to five days so we are on hold with harvest.
The equipment is all tucked into the barn for the time being while nature takes time for a cleansing rain.
The mower will be hooked up and can start even while the grass and ground is wet as long as the following five days allow for the grass to dry. In the meantime, we will let the main herd into the fields that we have completed so they can do the cleanup work on the missed edges, where wind whipped the grass out of the wind-rows and around the edges along the fence lines. That should keep the herd busy while we finish off the hay season with the last 6 acre field.
Friday was a day of bright, sunny, warm spells between micro-bursts of intense rain from building thunderheads. I seemed to be able to get stuck in the middle of most of the two minute showers, get semi-dry when the sun popped back out only to get doused again by another downpour. The main herd of cows had been eating around the far hay field and they appeared content until I noticed #99 over the fence from the rest of the cows, standing in the 6 acre hayfield.
The rain showers did little to settle the dust but it sure made the hip-high grass wet and found out as I walked though it to the gate of the 6 acre field. Once I opened the gate, #99 walked through and headed toward the barn. Surprised only one cow had gotten out, I closed the gate and followed her to the barn where I opened the gates to let her inside. I had no longer had her enclosed when I heard a bellow from the 6 acres, it was another cow out where she did not belong. The whole process of walking through the tall grass, opening and then closing after I got #32 safely through, then the long walk back to the barn to confine her with #99. Once the two cows were in the barn, they started complaining loudly to the rest of the herd which brought them all over to stand by the gate at the run through the large hayfield. Now everyone wanted to change pastures and I was again soaked through as a shower hit me from above and wet grass from below. Continue reading
We have been worried about our dry spring weather. We could see the stress on the new seedlings in the forest, the dusty lane around the fields that would normally be swamp messes this time of year, and in the growing hay fields. The grass didn’t look as green as it should and had practically stopped growing. We had concerns that we would have to start mowing a month early to keep from losing the nutrients as the grass dries out. Continue reading
We are finally experiencing weather that feels like spring since the cold grip of winter is loosening a bit.
A day full of dark ominous clouds creating bursts of rain with hail switching to brilliant sunlight moments later gave beautiful rainbows between the two on and off throughout the day.
It is a nice break from the below average temperatures of February and first half of March. Which reminds me, it is time to get back to all the spring obligations now that the weather is cooperating.
The next few days should be interesting. Weather reports range from cold rain, an ice event or 8 inches of snow, making it hard to prepare for the upcoming storm. This cold February is not going to give up easily.
At the barn level of the property, we still have traces of snow left from two weeks ago. Up in the woods, several inches remain where the open areas of the forest allowed the snow to blanket all the new seedlings.
Our usual Tuesday firewood delivery has been moved up to today, just in case we are not able to get out of the driveway with the load.
This afternoon will be spent checking the drainage around the barns and filling stock tanks in case of power outages. If there is any daylight left after preparations, we will be out in the barn bundling wood for what may be an urgent need for firewood at the stores where we have contracts.