April 14, 2024

From the Pastures: ‘A creeping drought’

I reviewed my article from one year ago and read that I started to graze my eight-way annual cover crop field in the middle of November and it lasted until Feb. 1. This year I’ll be done grazing the annual field by mid-December — what one year and a slow lack of rainfall can do.

I call this a creeping drought because ever so slowly it’s creeping up on us, a little bit less rain every month. I talked to a guy who lays field drainage tile and I asked, how far down is the ground dry? He said, as deep as you want to go! We really need a wet time period to recharge the soil moisture.

I brought the old ewes home from their landscaping duties, so now I have one large flock to manage. The rams will go into the ewes about mid-December, so the ewes will start lambing the first week in May. Hopefully we won’t have a cold, rainy, windy, storm blow through while I’m lambing.

Unfortunately, I will start feeding hay by mid-December. Between the baleage and dry hay I have stored up, I should have enough hay. It’s just a lot easier to have them grazing than me starting up a tractor and unrolling hay for them.

However, I’m going to unroll the hay where the soil tests say I need the fertilizer and I’ll let the sheep “spread the fertilizer” for me — no gas or diesel required for this kind of fertilizer spreader!

I also have to pull core samples of dry hay and baleage and send them in to get a hay test done so I know the nutrient value of the hay and be able to estimate the fertilizer value in my hay.

Have a very merry Christmas. I’ll see you next year.

Elton Mau

Elton Mau

Arrowsmith, Ill.