Dealing With a Drought


2020 was a terrible year for the world, for all of the obvious reasons. In our little corner of the world, on our farm, it was a tough year, but from an agricultural point of view it was pretty successful. We had more than adequate soil moisture from the fall of 2019 and had some timely rains through the early part of the 2020 summer. This gave us adequate pastures and a better than average hay crop. Moisture is the limiting factor on our farm, and most other farms for that matter. If we get snow in the winter and rain through the summer we can grow enough grass to sustain our animals throughout the year. If that doesn’t happen however, you get summer 2021.

By July of 2020 the rains had stopped. We didn’t get another measurable rain for the rest of the summer and fall. Then in the winter of 2020/2021 we had almost no snow. No snow equals no runoff in the spring. No runoff equals slow grass growth in the spring and lagging pastures. We had two measurable rains in early June 2021. This was enough to start the pastures and hay crops growing and gave us some hope. Then the water shut off again, and the heat started. We haven’t had any rainfall since early June. That combined with the unrelenting heat has baked the pastures and burned off the hay fields.

A quick word on our normal schedule. After we finish lambing out the sheep, calving out the cows and making sure the pigs have their babies throughout June we switch to cutting and baling hay. Getting the first cut hay up in good shape usually takes from early July until around July 25th. Then there is a little break until the middle of August when we harvest an annual forage crop. And finally we take a second cut of hay from any fields that have regrown in late August/early September. I was trying to schedule a meat delivery during one of our normal “off” times at the beginning of August.  But …

That didn’t work out this year. The early hay harvest went pretty much as normal, other than an increased sense of urgency to get the hay harvested before the leaves start to fall off due to lack of moisture. There won’t be a second cut of hay this year, so my September schedule just opened up. However the annual forage crop that we normally take off in mid to late August has matured earlier than normal. It is lighter than normal, but still should be adequate to get us through the winter … if we can get it cut and baled right away.

So that leads us to where we are now, and the reason for writing this blog.

We have to make around 1000 round bales in the next 7-10 days. That translates to around 1,000,000 lbs of hay.

The annual forage (oats & peas as well as millet, for those interested) is ready now. If we wait, the leaves will start to fall off and we will lose quantity and quality. So it’s “go time” on the farm (again). 1000 bales made over the next 10 or so days is doable, but the days will be long. That doesn’t leave me any time to put orders together, answer emails, create invoices, etc, etc. Generally all of the things I do in the week or so prior to the delivery. So we have to postpone the delivery again. It’s not what we want to do but in order to have the meat, eggs, etc that you all enjoy we need to take care of securing the winter feed source for our animals. We will be in again before the end of August. Come hell or high water.

I apologize for the delay.

I didn’t write this blog to make anyone feel sorry for us. Farming is hard. I knew that when I started. This is just an explanation. To let you know that we’re still here and we’ll be back delivering food before the month is out. If some or all of this doesn’t make sense to you, or you just want to know more drop us a line. If we get enough questions maybe I’ll write another one of these to answer them. Thanks for reading and thanks for your understanding.

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