June 12, 2024

From the Pastures: Rare find in the field

Hello from Graze-N-Grow. Summer is flying by, as usual. With so many things going on this time of year it seems to pass too quickly and now school starts. Although we’ve missed several local rain events, we have received a few tenths to quarter-inch showers lately since our big rain when July arrived and the pastures and row crops look pretty good.

Richard and Ken harvested about 11 acres of oats from two of three small fields after the wheat harvest. I grazed one. One thing I noticed that was odd to me was the complete lack of grasshoppers in the oat sample. For those of you old enough to remember when oats were commonly grown for sow and pig rations, as well as dairy and horses, the oat wagon would be crawling with grasshoppers — what changed? Then Richard planted beans on the wheat stubble after I disked it twice to get rid of some small weed pressure.

The wheat did a great job stifling the giant ragweed so it was pretty clean to harvest. I have just begun the second-pass cultivating and will need to have Richard come in later with his weed zapper after last pass since now those new weeds have plenty of sun to compete with the beans. That is a cool tool. Besides making harvest much easier, it stops seed formation and fields can come close to comparing to Roundup bean fields visually. I have walked some in the early planted field instead of having a second zapping pass, but that gets old quickly.

Our organic certifier’s annual visit was about a month later than normal and since I didn’t have wheat as a crop on last year’s roster, I couldn’t deliver it directly from the field. We are still waiting for that certificate. Paperwork is one challenge in the organic program and without Ruth’s help in organizing all the documentation it would be even more so.

We’ve had orders on breeding age ewe lambs for fall pick up and several ram lambs have gone through our processing room this past month. Pasture conditions have been pretty good lately and flock condition looks pretty good so far.

One interesting experience we had was when we visited the annual Starved Rock gathering of early American artifact collectors last month. I had found a stone back in June while walking through my cornfield and it was similar to another I had found about six years ago a quarter-mile east. Not knowing their purpose I asked several exhibitors there and they said it was a grooved gouge used to gouge out a log for canoe shaping and was very rare.

When I asked what tribe it could be from they all said it was Stone Age, way before tribes existed — 6,000 to 8,000 years ago. Wow! I wonder what other artifacts are still laying out there that have been farmed over all these years just waiting to be discovered. For a lot of you farmers who have found some of these items, you might find next year’s gathering of collectors worthy of a visit. Keep looking down! Happy trails!

Jim Draper

Jim Draper

Sheffield, Ill.