May 21, 2024

From the Pastures: Times have changed

Hello from Graze-N-Grow. Finally there’s no more talk of drought. The recent rains have kept the pastures looking good. Harvest in this area is probably on par with other years — many finished with beans, but not so much here. My harvest crew just started beans and drilling wheat, but got rained out on Oct. 11. I have 15 acres of rye growing on some cornstalk ground, but other than that most fall work is ahead of us.

Not much different than the old days of picking ear corn. We never started until October then and rain delays meant finishing hopefully before Thanksgiving. Back then a cab on the corn picker or the hauling-in tractor was not thought of and we considered 15 acres picked a good days work. My, how times have changed.

The ewes are in good flesh with ample pasture and breeding season is a month away. Since we sold the cows last spring, I decided I needed more chores, so we are feeding 12 dairy/beef bucket calves we get from a dairy in East Moline. Lately that class of beef has been in good demand compared to the straight dairy finishers, so hopefully that demand holds. It’s been a good ride so far with cattle prices rising and corn going the other way. It never lasts, but it can be a fun ride for a while.

The lamb market has been inching up, as well, with the highs hopefully ahead in December and January, but it probably won’t reach the highs of two years ago when imports were down. Still it’s not a bad market if you have the feed. The light lambs bring the best prices, so carrying them too long can be costly.

On a side note, our I-80 overpass is just now almost completed, except for guardrails. It’s been two and a half years now, so the detours are about to end. Once they got started back in April, it took them four months to build the overpass and two months to raise the approaches and now they will be starting on the next one west. Replacing all these 60-year-old structures should keep these crews busy until retirement.

Our weather forecast shows no rain for at least 10 days, so by the time you read this you all should be well into harvest again, so be careful out there. Happy trails.

Jim Draper

Jim Draper

Sheffield, Ill.