Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Last Hurrah: A Farm Update

"The last hurrah" for an aging alfalfa field has been a bright spot in a cloudy (literally) spring.

At the end of March, Randy planted oats in an alfalfa field he plans to retire after this growing season. An alfalfa field is productive about 7 to 8 years. This final cutting will provide a mixture of alfalfa and oats that we will bale up for cattle feed.
The excessive rain we've gotten since last fall has been a challenge in many aspects. But as Randy stood in the waist-high oats, it was obvious that like the Luke Brian song says, "Rain is a good thing" ... at least, for this field.
After Randy got to the end of a swath, he got off the tractor to tell me, "This is fun!"
Even the alfalfa has grown taller than normal, as it's tried to climb high enough to reach the sun from the canopy created by the taller oats. You can see its purple flowers among the oats.
The oats had reached the soft dough stage when they were swathed.

The oats and alfalfa are so lush that Randy had to move slowly through the field, more like swathing sudan than alfalfa.
Each swath left behind big windrows.
Unfortunately, we got 0.60" of rain on the swathed hay Friday night. Randy had hoped it would be dry enough to bale over Father's Day weekend, but the additional rain fall curtailed that schedule.
He was able to bale a field of alfalfa hay Sunday evening.
 Yes, working on Father's Day made him happy.
On Monday afternoon, the oat hay was dry enough to begin baling.
The first round yielded 14 bales!
I got another "This is fun!" from my farmer ... until the baler slugged and he was pulling hay out by hand. He wasn't able to bale past dark, since the hay got too wet.


Wet weather is not good for hay baling. But it's good for turtles. This snapping turtle was visiting our driveway last week. That's quite a distance from a creek, but there are a plethora of mudholes to visit in the vicinity.

June 13, 2019
The rain and cool weather have slowed Wheat Harvest 2019. By this time in most recent years, our combines have been rolling through golden fields. Here's the breakdown:

2010:  June 18
2011:  June 10
2012:  May 26 (an anomaly and the earliest harvest, by far, we've ever had)
2013:  June 21
2014:  June 17
2015:  June 20
2016:  June 15
2017:  June 12
2018: June 12
2019: ???????????????
This year, there's still a lot of green. The weather map shows the chance for more rain this week. The weather is something we can't control. Last fall, because of 15 inches of rain, we couldn't even plant 400 acres of what Randy had planned for our 2019 wheat crop. So the strange weather continues.
When we were taking photos in the wheat field last week, it felt more like spring than mid-June. The hot winds that blow in harvest weather just haven't been around much. On the other hand, the cooler weather helped fill the heads.
Another field - June 16, 2019
The last several days have started to feel like harvest weather. However, there is rain in the forecast today. According to the National Weather Service, severe thunderstorms are "very likely," with the possibility for hail and high winds. Scattered thunderstorms remain possible for all areas from Thursday night through Sunday.

So, at this point, we'll just have to see what happens. (I guess that's always true!)

 The milo crop is up and growing.
I took this photo as Randy was planting milo on June 4 (a different field). He planted 95 total acres of milo and 25 acres of silage.
June 13, 2019
It's off to a good start.

June 13, 2019
The prevented planting of wheat acres meant an increase to those we are devoting to corn on the County Line this year. We planted 600 acres of corn in mid- to late April on ground that Randy had planned to go to wheat this year.
April 2019
We are planting more corn this year than ever - 600 acres. That's not much when compared to other farmers, especially those with irrigated acres, but it's significant for us.

Another 12+ inches of rain in May means a lot of mudholes in the corn fields. The cool weather in early June also slowed down the growth. But it's making progress.
It would be nice if we could "bank" some cooler days and a little rain for when the corn is tasseling.

I spent an afternoon replenishing my cookie supply for harvest. I tripled my go-to cookie recipe and then divided the dough, making it into five different varieties. I bag some of them two-by-two in snack-sized bags and stick them in the freezer. That makes it easy to pull out bags for meals-to-the-field treats. Randy has bales piled. I have cookies.


  1. So is the price of corn going to be down and wheat way up due to the surplus/decrease in harvests?

    1. If you can figure out the markets, you are better than us!

  2. What a contrast your enterprise is to that of the Irish Farmers. Your post has answered some questions we formulated re the hay, as we drove around. Midsummer passed yesterday here on Prince Edward Island with 30 - 50mm of rain,15C and wind. Wonderful to be with our family.

    1. Yes, I think I commented on your blog post about the hay bales I saw in the Irish fields! I'm so glad you are getting to spend time with your family. Enjoy your grandson!