I just reread my writing to you from May 3. Little did we know what we were in for at that time. With rain nearly every day in May and a total of 10.5 inches, it has been a challenge like I have never seen before in my 50 years in the cattle business. I just realized when I started thinking about history that I got out of the U.S. Army on June 10, 1969, and soon thereafter purchased 20 cows and became a partner with my father. Looking back, we have seen a little bit of every kind of adversity with weather, markets and death loss, but I am going to rank May of 2019 with the worst.
The effects of numerous rains include: pasture forages like clover and orchard grass dying; heavy pugging from hooves no matter the stocking density; all grasses bolting early past mid-maturity; lengthy flooding that left some areas totally dead; a need to reduce our calf population on the north side flooding area by 60%, leaving us a slim return for this season; it has been impossible to move daily because of the low density of our grazing; and the stress of it all has been really hard for me to work through.
But despite all that, it looks like the rains might be slowing in frequency, volume and coverage. Keeping things in proper perspective has been difficult, but not as much as the flooding victims along our major rivers and those affected by windstorms. As a bystander to the row crops in the area, I continue to be amazed by the conventional tillage being practiced on sloping ground that is grossly affected by erosion to the extent of gullies that turn our rivers a deep chocolate. Then, twice filling in the gullies and conventionally tilling again. What are they thinking? A crop rotation with a forage, or no-till, or a cover crop would certainly help correct the situation.
The Western Illinois Grazing Group will meet June 26 at a site to be determined. We had to cancel the May meeting due to wet and storms. To be added to the text list or email list, send a request to email@example.com.