June 12, 2024

From the Pastures: In the ‘happy times’

Hello from Graze-N-Grow. It was a lot warmer March 1 getting the clover frost seeded this year, but that weather has disappeared lately. If the freeze-and-thaw cycles do their job, we should have a pretty good stand since we still have at least 10 more days of freezing night temps to help get the seeds into the soil.

What looked like a good early start of spring this year proved to be otherwise. I remember way back in the ‘70s taking the 4020 out and chisel plowing on the last day of February. That tractor is long gone and so have been my chances to duplicate that early start of spring fieldwork.

At least the recent warmup brought the rye out of hibernation. It didn’t emerge late last fall, but was up over 2 inches the first week in March. When it gets warm enough to get over 4 inches, the ewes will get to graze some. Once they get to eat green groceries, they won’t be as interested in hay, although I will keep some with them to keep their gut in good working order. The ewes are scheduled to start dropping lambs April 15. Let’s hope spring starts before then.

For those of us in the red meat business, we are in the “happy times.” Both beef and lamb prices are good and getting better, and the recent proposal to revamp the “Product of USA” label is great news, as well. Presently, any foreign meat crossing our borders could be labeled with that as soon as it entered the United States and was repackaged giving consumers who prefer U.S. grown and raised meat false impressions. Big meat companies have been resisting this change since they think it might hurt their sales of foreign purchases produced under foreign standards. I think consumers should have their choice.

Good news on the home front here. Work will soon begin on our I-80 overpass, I am told. The bad news is the engineer said not to expect completion this year. Such a pessimist. The contractor asked last week if we would sell fill dirt for the 2 feet of additional height of the ramps so we may get a small pond on the property. We shall see.

When the road was built around 1960, they took dirt from the farm by cutting down half of a hill. They forgot to put the topsoil back — oops. So, now we have some un-prime land that could just as well have water 5 feet deep as 2 inches deep half the year now. I have never been much of a fisherman, but have been wanting something to distract me from working, so this opportunity is a godsend.

In the meantime, I need to get ready to sow oats on the cornstalks and get the peas and oats drilled in on the bean stubble before planting corn there later in May or early June. It sure is good the time changed back. We will need that extra hour we’ve been saving all winter just to get everything done. Make sure you use that extra hour safely. Happy trails.

Jim Draper

Jim Draper

Sheffield, Ill.