July 23, 2024

From the Barns: Rains fizzling out

I wrote last month that if we didn’t receive rain soon, then before long we would be in a drought. Well, sure enough, that’s where we are now. Since my last writing, we have only had a couple of small showers. Not far from us, in all directions, some places have been receiving some decent rains. I am hearing the crops there are looking rejuvenated. However, these rains have just been missing us or fizzling out before they get here.

Grass is all but gone and the ground is getting hard and dusty. Many of the cattle that are supposed to be grazing are now having to be supplemented with feed and more will need to be shortly.

On the bright side, we had sowed 80 acres in some sorghum-sudangrass, and in the next day or two we will be turning some cattle onto it. Despite the lack of moisture, we have a pretty good stand and it is growing. It helps that the forage is fairly drought tolerant. Half of the acreage is bottom, so no doubt that helped provide enough moisture to get it up and going. The ridges need some rain before that can get much growth, so we will try to lay off of those sections of the pasture. They are calling for a good chance of rain tomorrow, so let’s pray we get it.

This brings to mind the southern Illinois hay crop, which is short and sparse. Reports are that hayfields have been yielding 30% to 70% of normal and quality is not that good, either. Livestock producers are scrambling to buy up all the hay they can, and poor quality fields that haven’t been baled in a year or two are being baled up, as well.

We have tried to be aggressive in buying hay, but I think we will probably fall short in what we need. Part of this problem stems from being dry late last summer and into fall, so there was no moisture to grow grass last fall and we see the results of that. I also believe producers don’t want to spend money on fertilizer and that is reducing these yields, as well.

Not much cattle movement in or off the farm this past month, so inventory numbers staying about the same. Cattle doing pretty well. We have had a few really hot days, but no more than two or three in a row, so heat stress has not been as much of a problem as it could be. We have shade in all pens and pastures, so that helps mitigate that heat stress immensely.

Angela and I spent one day in June in Springfield, as we went up to see Wyatt receive his State FFA Degree at the Illinois State FFA Convention. It was a good session that we got to attend and a nice ceremony in which he was recognized for his accomplishment. We are so proud of him for reaching this achievement as he closed out his high school days and looking forward to him going for his American FFA Degree next.

We lost a dear friend and local cattle producer a couple of week ago to an unexpected passing. He has a very nice stock farm in Johnson County, with a good commercial cowherd. My nephew, David, had been helping for the past two years in managing the cattle and the farm and they were working closely together to improve herd quality and numbers.

We have been buying and feeding his calves for the past 30 years. Going to continue to manage the place and assist his widow in getting through this transition process, wherever it leads. Sure makes one think about the brevity of life and not to take for granted what we have and the friendships we develop over our lives. Thankful for the blessings that God has given us!

Jeff Beasley

Jeff Beasley

Creal Springs, Ill.