We remained dry in August and as we entered September, but not unusually so. This is the time of year when we are watching for that right window to begin our preparation of the pastures for winter grass plantings. If we start too early, we can damage the summer grasses by exposing them to persistent heat and dryness; if we start too late, we can have poor germination due to an early frost. The prediction is for a colder, wetter fall and winter. But predictions are for the amateurs. We know that a prediction can be generally accurate but not at all so for our little micro-climate. So we watch our atmospheric conditions closely.
What we have seen lately is heavy afternoon showers easily visible from our hill top but without a drop falling on us. Until we get some of that good rain, we try to remain patient but it`s easy to say and harder to do because the task ahead is labor and time-intensive.
We plan to have 58 acres of rye and oat winter pasture this year, and will implement that in stages of 10 to 15 acres at a time. Each stage will include shredding (to open the soil to sunlight), light disking (to expose some fluffy soil), planting, and dragging (to insure good contact between seed and soil). None of the stages can be combined. Each stage will take a day of time on the tractor. So that’s 40 hours per stage (10 hour days), and 5-7 stages. We are looking at something in the ballpark of 200 to 280 man hours between September 15th and November 15th . That’s in addition to all other regular tasks and assumes the weather allows – it can go from too dry and hot to too wet and cold very quickly.
So there you have it – while it’s not brain surgery, it isn’t kindergarten either. And if you are risk-averse, stay away! But you’ll miss a wonderful life that is different every day and always challenging.