State of the Farm

In May, I reported a calming of the high winds and noted that it might be a sign of rain to come. Sure enough, an inch and a half of rain blessed us and it was followed a week later with two more inches. While three and a half inches in May will not break the drought, it was welcome to say the least and might break the pattern that brought the drought.

So what is the immediate effect? We are seeing a “green-up” below the standing hay from last year and in some areas, pretty significant stands of new grass. We’re not ready to start our grazing rotation yet but we can see the day when we can. Probably somewhere between June 14th and the 21st will mark the start of our first rotation through the grazing lanes, which means we will be 2 months late getting started. We are intending to get at least 30 days between the first lane grazed and the return to that lane. But if it remains dry during that 30 day period, we are unlikely to have the grass ready for a second rotation and will have to give the grass more time to grow. The biggest mistake a grazier can make is a return too quickly to a lane. If the grass is not ready, grazing it too soon only compounds the problem of too little grass. Grass is our primary crop, and we protect it jealously. The livestock can eat stored grass (hay) while they await the slower growth of the fresh grasses.

In farming as in life, for every action there is a reaction. In the case of drought, the demand for hay goes up and so goes its price. The distance we have to travel to get it gets longer. If there is no grass growing in Texas, there is likewise no hay being made. We look to Louisiana, Kansas and New Mexico next, adding more cost because of the distance traveled to get it. Needless to say, that is not optimal for a model of producing locally-grown food on a light footprint, but desperate times call for desperate measures. So we temporarily adjust our model, pay the price and pray for rain.

We again find the winds subsiding, temperatures increasing, and hear of mild disturbances in the Gulf. So maybe...

No complaints here. If it was easy, anybody could do it.

JVF