September 26, 2021

From the Pastures: The growing market

Hello from Graze-N-Grow. Nowadays it seems like the COVID issue is taking a backseat to the weather. For us here, the rain is welcome. I wish we could share some of it with our farming friends north and west of us. For those who bale hay or raise wheat, it’s probably not so welcome, but for us graziers, rain makes meat. I always think when it rains on my hay it’s raining on my pastures and row crops, as well. There’s something to be said about diversification.

We are preparing for the annual ethnic holiday lamb slaughter. Time to get the barn and butchering room ready and the ram lambs weighed up before July 20. Always a hectic time and I keep thinking this will be our last year since it gets 10 days earlier to have 6-month-old lambs available. We have been getting multiple calls almost daily for lambs and could have sold literally hundreds by now if we had them, mainly in the Chicagoland area. If someone is willing to lamb in December — not me — there will be great demand for those few animals come market day next year.

Fall lambing could also work, but that means higher feeding costs for both ewes and lambs during the non-growing season. Unless, of course, you have access to enough winter stockpile grazing acres, something rare in the Corn Belt.

I don’t know what else I could do during next winter if I can keep the rams out until December, but I have time to figure that out. If it wasn’t for Ruth and her cow, Ella, we could go somewhere, but for her that part of her day is like a mini vacation anyway, so we will probably just shelter in place as usual. Hope the weather is treating you right this summer. Happy trails.

Jim Draper

Jim Draper

Sheffield, Ill.