Shades of Ireland

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Decisions, decisions.....

I was really hoping for rain last night. I know that I sound obsessed with the weather and that is because.... I AM! So much of our lives and what we do-- or don't do--- hinges on the weather. Right now, this part of the world is dry...... scary dry...... wonder-if-it-is-ever-going-to-rain-again kind of dry.
Our corn crop was a total failure. So was most of our neighbors corn crops. We managed to buy hay early in the summer but we were very fortunate.  Soybeans are being harvested now and the results are very poor.
The pastures are pitifully short and overgrazed. Ranchers are selling cattle to reduce the grazing pressure and hoping to make the hay stretch a little further. I have never seen so many dry ponds. The big danger with these shallow ponds is that cattle get stuck in the mud trying to get a drink. It doesn't sound like it but that is a very big deal...... many times they will die of exhaustion or a heart attack while trying to get out. Rescueing them is a nighmare and often they die anyway from the stress of it all.

Even though we had a big chance of rain for last night, we only got a few drops..... looked more like a heavy dew when I went out this morning. It did not even accumulate in the rain guage. Today it has been cool, dreary, overcast skies---- and bone dry.
Next good chance according to the weatherman is next Wednesday...... seems like an eternity!

Meanwhile-- what do we do?

Seth dug out the spring and put a barrell watering trough down in it. It stays full and even has a slight overflow. He put rock all around it so that it drains and the cattle don't have to slog through mud to get to it. As long as they all don't mob it at one time, it seeps enough to give everybody a good drink. The upper pond is not quite dry. The big pond out back is getting shallower by the day. I had to go out in the canoe and fix up fence so that the cows didn't just walk across the now dry parts and graze in the yard or hang out on the deck. They still have water but the grazing is pretty much gone. We were waiting to see how much of this rain we got before begining to ration out the hay....... looks like tomorrow is the day to start.

The horse pond is bone dry and they are getting rural water...... and running up the monthly water bill. The horse market is flooded and it is almost impossible to give a horse away-- much less sell one. People are trying anyway. Craigslist, bulletin boards and newspapers are full of ads for horses.

We have the 16 weaned calves and goat herd out in the front paddocks with access to the middle pond. Shallow but the rock rim around the edges keeps everybody on firm footing. Feeding hay to them. The steers will all go to market by the first of December but what should we do with the heifers? Keep or sell? Should we build the herd since the ag economists are saying it will take 4-5 years for the American cow herd to recover from this years massive sell off? The price of replacement females is predicted to skyrocket...... sell or hang on a while longer? Either way, it is nervewracking. Take the money and run or invest in the future herd? If we keep them, can we feed them through the winter or will be just put off selling them until later?

Please Lord, when is it going to rain?

1 comment:

  1. It's good to hear first hand how dry it is in our own area. We suburbanites know it's dry, but we don't always see the effects that bear down hard on livestock and farmers. Thanks for the update.