September 21, 2023

From the Pastures: Feeling your oats

Hello from Graze-N-Grow! Our harvesting crew, Ken and Richard, are yet to arrive. Since I planted one 12-acre pasture to beans two weeks after the main crop was planted, I did not want them to have to make the long detour around the as-yet-blocked I-80 overpass twice. Hopefully by the time you read this that harvest will be over. The good news is the bridge contractor told me he expects to have a crane in the median this month and begin tearing out the overpass and constructing the tower before winter and finishing the project by next July — hooray!

We’ve had a half inch of rain last week in an otherwise uninterrupted harvest season. The drought that has plagued many of our western neighbors has not impacted us around here locally, but continued dryness going into winter may cause us a problem come spring if we don’t get our soils recharged. The Mississippi as we know is already low and causing freight delays. Fortunately for me, our crops will be processed close to home for local egg barns.

My neighbor, David, hauled two loads of organic oats to the river last month. After having them cleaned they weighed almost 39 pounds — and were worth $7.25 per bushel! That’s by far more than I have ever gotten for oats before, but then it’s only been 40-some years since I have sold any. It’s good to have a profitable alternative crop to corn and beans. Since I planted red clover with the oats, we have an economical grazing crop, which the cattle and sheep have used to full advantage. We just recently pulled them off to allow recovery time and body condition is very good.

Some Amish customers from southern Wisconsin are coming on Oct. 17 to pick up at least 60 replacement ewe lambs. They came last year and got almost 200 ewes and lambs and would get more this time, but I need to keep some for myself. Since we sorted the ewe lambs from their mothers last week, we put two flocks back together — finally.

Now we have two young guard dogs under 2 years and one pup we got last August at weaning and our senior resident, Dakota, all together. Not exactly one big happy family yet, but they will soon establish who’s boss, hopefully without bloodshed.

So much for the ovine and canine groups. On the bovine front, Ruth’s heifer, Stella, Ella’s daughter, had her first calf recently and her casein test came back A2, so Ruth has double fun nowadays. Not exactly her words, so Patty give us a call. Ruth may be able to part with her without shedding too many tears. Since she has been running the combine for brother Bill — Ruth, not the cow — she already has a full schedule.

I am sure many of you have a busy harvest schedule, too, so take time to notice the beautiful change of seasons and enjoy the bounty our Creator has given us. Happy trails.

Jim Draper

Jim Draper

Sheffield, Ill.