A normal year for growing hay is cutting three to four times a growing season. The drought year of 2012 produced five cuttings of alfalfa. The hay season started early and received enough rain to keep growing all summer until November. Alfalfa is a plant with a tap root that was able to use what subsoil moisture was available.
Our stored feed inventory going into winter is larger than it was a year ago. Since the round baler for alfalfa was already attached to the tractor, I baled a couple dozen cornstalk bales weighing 1,323 lbs. each. There are a few ears of corn on the ground that get baled with the cornstalks. Whenever I stop the baler to make adjustments or stretch my legs, the best ears of corn I find end up on the John Deere’s floor for me to hand feed later. Yes, the ears I picked up were among the best and biggest that the field produced. We have a few hundred round bales of hay wrapped in plastic or under white tarps waiting for hungry cows in January.
I am not as optimistic about the upcoming growing year as I usually am. The drought is continuing, weather is warmer than usual, the government is going to raise taxes, and it looks like the Mississippi River will close for barge traffic. I have my 2013 corn seed purchased and paid for.
Farmer attitude is mixed. Farmers with good yields and no aflatoxin are happy. Farmers with low yields and grain quality issues are hoping the crop insurance payments arrive before Dec. 31 so the payment will be taxed at a lower rate.
Fly-free mineral feeder
A college student from Western Illinois University who has been helping me for the last two years will be graduating soon and can no longer help us. We will miss him but remember him by the fly-killing mineral feeder that he built for us.
The photo is a reminder of how weeds adapt to drought and stay green, while the grass in the background has turned brown.