There are two measurements that we follow closely in livestock farming, moisture and temperature. Of the two, moisture is by far the most important. But temperature plays a significant secondary role and it is one that has provided some impact in our fall and winter season this year.
Despite predictions to the contrary, the colder than usual winter is only now starting to show itself. Until now, we have had a warmer than usual fall and winter season. The orchards are very confused – the fig trees are putting on new leaves and the peaches are popping a few flowers. On the pasture side of things, winter grasses are stunted. They pop up in the cooler weather but are stunted as the temperatures rise, staying in a semi-developed state as the weather cycles between cool and warm. But warm weather forbs and grasses show a little growth, providing a degree of offset to the retarded winter grass. The balance of warm and cool weather grasses has allowed us to avoid putting hay out and we all like that — the cattle because they prefer fresh grass and the humans because it saves costs, which are already out of line in other areas.
The moisture equation is good to great. We are back to pre-drought normality, and that is the “great” part. The simply “good” part is that the rains have not been as balanced as we would like. The rain has tended to run in cycles of very dry and very wet. In a perfect world, we would have seen the rain spread around a little differently. Since we seldom see that perfect world, we will happily take what we have gotten. It is so much better than our recent history. So we give a hip hip hooray to the year 2014 and look forward to a normal 2015.