State of the Farm

I reported last month that we were running at about 80% of normal rainfall through April. That compares to the 35-40% we experienced in 2011 and ‘12. We finished May 1/10th of an inch higher than normal, so our percent of rain for the year increased, another welcome sign. As the calendar turned over to June, a thunderstorm rolled in like a locomotive, dropping 1.2 inches on us to start the month with a very nice rain. June is normally our heaviest rain month (excepting tropical storms in late summer) so we can hope for a nice finish before the dog days set in. So that is the rain picture to date, and while adequate rain is the first condition that must be present for good growth, there are others, namely temperature, humidity and wind, pretty much in that order of importance.

Our weather picture has been interesting from a temperature angle. We have experienced what amounts to a six or seven month spring since last October. A mild winter followed by a prolonged spring kept the climate for growth at an optimum level if only considering temperature and humidity, two very important factors. That longer period of pleasant conditions, amounting to a double spring, is giving us grass-finished beef at better weights than we have had for the preceding two years. That spells relief along with the improving rains.

Humidity and wind velocity have to be considered together because one can offset the other. How’s that? When moisture is pouring in from the Gulf in low wind conditions, the humidity level tends to remain relatively constant from morning to night. Strong breezes will offset that effect, acting as a dryer of the air both in terms of the actual reduction of moisture and in terms of the “feel”. So in breezy conditions, there can be a significant reduction in humidity from sunrise to sunset and the animals feel that effect just as we do. That’s the benefit of breezy conditions - a more pleasant feel, less energy drain, and more animal growth. The downside is evaporation of moisture in the soil. Wind velocity always picks up moisture from the soil as it passes because the air just above the surface is more saturated than the air being carried along by the breeze. Moisture always moves from wet to dry conditions. Simple enough, right? The result is that the extra-breezy conditions this year have offset the extra rain we have received. How much? I cannot make that calculation, I can only observe its effect as we approach the end of a rainless but breezy period. The grasses slow down and begin to dry out while awaiting the next rain. When the rain comes, the grasses follow.

True summer arrived overnight. Another observation this year that is a bit odd is the rapidity from which the weather went from cool to warm. It was not a gradual process at all. We saw temperatures ranging from 62 to 82 turn into 72 to 92 right at the end of May about the time the devastating tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma. Happened overnight. Summer is here.

So that’s the State of the Farm as of this writing. Probably more information than you need, but describes the weather factors that we watch for and take into account when trying to predict the health and happiness of the flora, fauna and creatures of Jolie Vue Farms.