May 20, 2024

From the Pastures: Recovering nicely

Hello from Graze-N-Grow. Well, I think we may have a crop after all. I hope everyone got their much-needed rain by now. Since I plant later than most, none of my crop had seen any rain except a couple half-tenth events until the end of June and then a whole inch came in early July and more since then.

The corn and beans got cultivated the second time just in time before our first big rain. Now it’s mostly above my head and I say mostly because it varies throughout the field. Ken and Richard got the wheat out on July 9 and after disking twice the beans got planted. With a 40-foot draper head followed by a 24-row planter, it didn’t take them long to do 74 acres. All those weed seeds that lay dormant all spring have decided to make up for lost time so as soon as it dries out enough the tine weeder gets back in the game.

My experimental no-till corn on clover stubble looks kind of pathetic with only about a half stand and with emergence spread out over two weeks some are almost knee-high and above the clover canopy and would look great if it was June and some only 6 to 8 inches high. If frost delays until November, I may get something out of it. It should at least be good fall grazing.

Pastures have recovered nicely and lawn mowing has begun again so we have breathed a sigh of relief around here as I’m sure most of you have done, as well. During the dry spell, not knowing when it would end, I made the decision to sell the cows and keep back some yearlings for future slaughter. I believed with limited pasture growth I would be more profitable to save what I had for the ewes.

Our ethnic holiday lamb slaughter went well, but since I had very few of my own lambs born in December I was able to buy some from two producers who lambed early. They had their start in a sheep enterprise from our flock years ago. With only less than 30 head total, it was a smaller turnout that day, but our price made it worthwhile. Next year may be more of a challenge as the holiday comes about 10 days earlier each year and demand keeps growing.

Even though Katahdins are seasonal breeders, I haven’t had much success in the past with fall lambing, but that is what’s going to be necessary to provide for that demand unless we carry over spring born through the winter and sell yearlings. I believe the customers would pay the price for a larger lamb, but either way we would have to have a good supply of winter grazing cover crops and hay. Farther south in the fescue belt on non-row cropland, that would work out more profitably so you folks in that territory have what Allan Nation called the unfair advantage. Go for it! Happy trails!

Jim Draper

Jim Draper

Sheffield, Ill.