I was trying hard to remain optimistic at the end of my last writing on June 7. We did receive a nice 10-day respite from the heavy rains, but that did not last. Rain returned with a vengeance the last half of June and has continued into July. Our total is just over 21 inches for May and June. We received 1.2 inches in 15 minutes July 3, but were lucky in that some areas very close to our east had 4 inches. We have needed to move cattle from the flood plain pastures up the lane to higher ground a total of five times since April 15. It has truly been an historic year so far. What is next? We are starting to feel like we can deal with adversity better — we certainly have practiced.
Therefore, our grazing season continues to be a challenge. It has been almost impossible to get our cattle moving in a rotation that could give us our very best results. We would like to be moving each afternoon to a new paddock with the highest possible Brix score for a good gut fill. When we are soaked with moisture, we have instead had lots of pugging, over- or under-utilization and some destruction of quality grass and legumes. We also have not been able to culture the kind of behavior that cattle usually display when being rotated daily into a fresh paddock, namely to move effortlessly and quickly and make a cattleman’s life really easy. Placing temporary fencing for the perfect size paddock is an easy task except when you are slogging through mud and water or over ground already pugged. I know I am griping about it too much, but it has been, at times, very difficult.
The Western Illinois Grazing Group had a really good evening on June 26 at Jeff Weise’s J & J Pastures northeast of Galesburg. Jeff treated our group of 13 producers to lots of good information about his grass finishing beef operation using rotational grazing, an extensive Environmental Quality Incentives Program project with fencing, water lines and a wintering and feeding building and a beautiful herd of Longhorn cattle. Jeff markets his grass-finished beef at farmer markets and by word of mouth. The evening was informative and enjoyable, and the storms went another direction.
It seems as though misinformation, overreaction to minor issues, social media gossip, a general lack of minding our own business and a lack of respect for elements of our society that have made our country great are some of the phenomena tearing us apart these days. It was good to see the July 4 celebrations of our great history. I have an issue that is bothering me more each day. That is plant-based protein trying to pose as beef. A host of false reasoning is rampant with this trend. Our industry doesn’t need to overreact, but we need to react, and aggressively.
I just finished helping to evaluate a large number of applicants for the Illinois Beef Association college scholarships. The IBA Foundation Board takes on this task to select the recipients. I am always amazed at the amount of cattle shows that the applicants have done and their list of winnings. Sadly, I read almost no applications from those youth who have cattle experience on the commercial level and can talk about best practices in a true cattle production setting.