State of the Farm

Ridiculous! The only way to state this banner year for grass (“it’s what we do”) is truly “ridiculous”. We have never seen such abundance in our primary crop as we have this year. Makes us sort of keep looking over our shoulder wondering if some calamity is on the way to offset the largesse we find sitting in our lap, a lap of grass luxury. So how did this happen and is it repeatable?

First, how did it happen? It started with a decision to under-graze our seven pastures and eight pig paddocks in the spring. The goal was to maximize our chance of having good ground cover when we reached the hotter, dryer periods of the summer. This wasn’t a new goal - we are always taking steps toward that goal. The difference this year is that we took it to the extreme. We were leaving ungrazed grass behind on our rotations to new pastures, and that was the extension of our normal process. So instead of “no cow gets her second bite”, it became “no cow gets her first bite every time”. That meant leaving grass behind that had not been touched. And that meant more protection of the soil, which in turn resulted in more growth. How’s that? Soil protection from heat and the preservation of moisture therein results in healthier, ever-growing grasses. Even as the rain was drying up, we could feel that softness in the soil that tells us that moisture is being stored.

Is it repeatable? Well, longer term predictions in the agriculture business is a risky thing. Each year brings differing issues, especially in a climate that is more volatile than any we have known over 28 years of taking a shot at predictions. But the theory is sound, so we will stay with it so long as there is a chance that we call it correctly.

For this year, it has been heaven-sent. We literally have grasses that are reaching chest-high in September and so thick that I have had to slow the tractor down by 2 gears and increase RPMs by 300 revs just to do mowing in the pastures that are set aside for winter planting. And the tractor still bogs down at times trying to get through the abundance.

Besides benefitting the harvesters (cows and pigs), this abundance has even more value to the payers (Honi and Glen). If the fall weather holds up, warm weather grasses will feed the eaters well into the end of the year. That translates into less planting of winter pasture, saving us tractor time and seed cost. We might even make a profit this year!

We’re living large here, folks!