Farm Update


I like to give readers a little slice of the farm on occasion. Some people farmed much of their lives and then retired while others grew up on the farm so both groups have memories that occupy a warm, sentimental spot in their minds. I also write farm updates for those who have no contact or history with farming and think chocolate milk comes from black cows.


The nice thing about a drought is that the first year of the drought features crops that typically make it to harvest and the great outdoors are so comfortable. There’s not a lot of humidity or mosquitoes and the sun seems to make the world especially beautiful. Unfortunately, a lack of rain has many farmers feeding hay to their cattle already. I am fortunate in that I rotate our cattle through many paddocks which gives each section of land a long rest. The cattle leave some pasture uneaten and mash the grass and legume mix into the ground. This creates a mat of grass which covers the ground and prevents the ground moisture from evaporating as quickly as it would from bare ground. Constantly moving the cattle helps develop a healthy root system that makes the ground like a sponge, in other words we keep most of our rain as it does not run off into a ditch.


I’ve noticed our pastures have become mostly alfalfa. Alfalfa has an incredible root system and can persist even when the orchard grass and fescue aren’t doing as well. I would like to report on the overall health of the pasture however I have not yet received test results. I clipped tissue samples in May in order to get an idea of whether I needed to fertilize but apparently my results were sent via time capsule.


I’ve kept busy remodeling the corral. I gathered enough posts to create sorting pens and am replacing many of the swinging gates I purchased with treated wood. I used a lot of swinging gates with the idea it would give me more flexibility in moving cattle however the truth is that these gates never swing and I didn’t need that much flexibility. As it turns out, the cattle show me what works and what doesn’t, it’s all just one big test farm around here as I really have little interest in what has already been done . I can’t afford to purchase most manufactured cattle equipment and so collect pieces from everywhere until I have enough to mount the pieces together into something that resembles a Rube Goldberg cartoon.


We start sugar beet pre-pile this week. I honestly thought about wearing shorts as it is so hot. I’m not sure many people harvest sugar beets in their shorts; we used to wear jackets and caps. I am old enough to remember a time when it was cold during the harvest. It actually even used to snow. I no longer carry a jacket-I pack sunscreen.

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