March 04, 2024

From the Pastures: Supplying demand

Hello from Graze-N-Grow. So far, it’s been a pleasant January here at home. The wind isn’t blowing, it stays above zero and the snow isn’t too deep. What’s not to like about that? Except for the ice — I don’t get up as easy when I fall. At least there’s a clean plate for serving the ewes their hay. Since they still are able to dig through the snow and ice for the remaining forage, I’m only giving the pregnant ewes a couple pounds of hay a day, and they are still good and fat. Those with lambs are fed free choice hay.

The cattle are relying on bale grazing alone since their pasture has been grazed down by now. So far, their diet is year-old hay stored inside, so all in all, feed costs are reasonable this winter. As far as butcher lambs go, I’ve saved back a dozen or so to go to lockers this month, but all others left after Christmas. You know demand is good when the slaughterhouse calls and asks me what I want for them. It’s going to be spring before we will have any more to sell, and I think the market is following the same trajectory as the corn and bean market, supply- and demand-wise.

Ruth and I recently picked up some broilers we stored at Tommy’s poultry slaughter and put in to our walk-in freezer, so we still have a plentiful supply of chicken, along with beef and pork, and soon we will have more lamb back from processors. It’s nice to have all available for a change. The egg layers we started late last summer are getting with it now, so we have them available now, as well, but many of our egg customers are our lamb customers, and since the lambs are all gone, some may not make the trip for eggs alone. We have, however, had some come from the Chicago area for eggs and honey alone, but I think for them it’s just an excuse to get out in the country. How lucky we are to live here away from concrete and traffic.

As the days get slowly longer, I find myself on Facebook checking out all the info on cover crops and annual forage options. Just like gardeners — Ruth’s friends — I get antsy about spring and start counting the days. As long as I can put a cork in the flow of news from “out there,” I find that life is pretty good here. I think that with all the bad news, mainly involving politicians or protesters, I’ll bet not one of them is a farmer. And probably if those folks had chores to do, like farmers, they would be busy and contented enough they wouldn’t have the time or inclination to stir up so much trouble. That is, or course, unless that is what they are getting paid to do. We all have a choice to be civil and be part of the solution and not the problem. We live in a great country. Let’s do our part to keep it that way. I’ll get off the soapbox now and see you all next month. Happy trails.

Jim Draper

Jim Draper

Sheffield, Ill.