February 27, 2024

From the Pastures: Living the dream

Hello from Graze-N-Grow. As I write this, we’ve had about 3 inches of rain and the high temp today and tomorrow is 60 degrees. It’s a kind of a preview for upcoming attractions. With 80-degree temps yet ahead, there’s still some summer left, but harvest is soon here. Our area has been blessed with good moisture season-long, so expectations are high, but it isn’t in the bin yet.

Our lawns never got a reprieve from mowing this year, so Ruth was kept busy even if I wasn’t. With fair season over and field days behind us, it looks like I have fewer excuses to goof off. So, there’s still some fence to build and plenty more jobs waiting. I had better get at it.

We’ve had some new milk, meat and egg customers, as well as our regulars, and it’s always interesting to hear our city customers comment on the contrast between life in the city compared to our more rural lifestyle. They might view our side through rose-colored glasses, but I agree with them on our good fortune to be in the country.

Most have a dream to relocate here, but I seldom encourage the thought. We have it good here now, why spoil it with rural condos? I once read a comment by a rancher who said he knew a lot of doctors and lawyers who wanted to be ranchers, but had never met a rancher who wanted to be a doctor or lawyer. In spite of low prices at times, broken machinery and animal escapes, we have it made, I think.

I have been noticing, due to our abundant moisture, a lot of warm season perennial grasses, mainly big blue stem and Indian grass growing in the road ditches and along I-80 by us even after spring mowing. I think that early mowing mimicked animal impact that allowed the later warm season plants to develop with less competition and without later mowing they are really showing their presence.

Speaking of I-80, I talked to our road commissioner about an update on our overpass rebuild project that has been on hold for a year and a half now. He said support beams were not available, so the project won’t start until they are. That means I get to drive nine miles instead of 100 yards to my north field for another year.

Our ewe lambs, along with their mamas, are looking good on the clover oat stubble. With the volunteer oats providing the energy along with the clover protein, it’s a pretty good ration. We have several inquiries on the those lambs when they get breeding age, but an Amish fellow from Wisconsin who bought about 90 last year gets first dibs.

Since we sold off so many last year, our supply is limited while demand continues to grow. When folks realize the prices for market lambs can offer a quicker payback than cattle, and with the right genetics to grow them out without expensive grain, there is opportunity.

Now that harvest is soon upon us, let’s all remember safety should not be an afterthought. By then it may be too late. Have a safe harvest and thank God for the bounty. Happy trails.

Jim Draper

Jim Draper

Sheffield, Ill.