July 23, 2024

From the Pastures: Getting motivated

Hello from Graze-N-Grow. So far, after our Halloween minor snowstorm, November weather has been great. Standing crops are rapidly disappearing. But not my corn. Since I get paid a quarter for each point of test weight above 56 pounds, I’ve told the harvest crew to keep busy elsewhere for a few days. Test weight usually increases with field drying and it’s still standing good.

I expect by the time you read this it will be all over and the rest of the rye drilled, as well. The wheat on bean stubble is all up and looking good, but most of the rye will have to wait until spring to emerge. As long as it’s there for spring lambing it will be doing its job.

The ewes are in great condition in preparation for breeding to start soon. Pastures have been holding up well in spite of the current dry spell, but sooner or later the ground will need a drink. No tiles are running here.

Speaking of sheep, I’ve been reading in my current issue of RANGE magazine of the dire state of the American sheep industry. It seems I’ve been telling folks for years that half of the lambs consumed here come from Oceania — Australia and New Zealand — and I was right then. That was true up until 2012. But it has been steadily declining since then, and as of 2022, 74% of our consumption here is imported. Most of that happened, the article said, because of the Clinton-era North American Free Trade Agreement.

Now we can thank R-CALF, which has formed a sheep committee, for stepping up to the plate for the sheep industry by going to Congress to try to rectify this disaster. It seems that the Australian dollar is equal to 56 American cents. Our sheep numbers have gone from 60 million sheep to 3 million breeding ewes — 5 million total sheep, including rams and lambs — while Australia’s numbers went from 50 million to 70 million and New Zealand from 16 million to 24 million.

There are other regulatory issues, as well, that exacerbate the problem here — such as predator control restrictions, extremist animal and grazing rights groups and labor regulations. So, the next time you go to the store to by lamb, and you should, be sure it’s American. It’s still the best.

Back to the farm here we’ve replaced the cows we sold last spring with some buckets and have 20 dairy/beef calves adopting them with more to come. My philosophy is I need something to get me motivated every morning. What do all you grain farmers use as motivation after harvest?

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We are all blessed. Happy trails.

Jim Draper

Jim Draper

Sheffield, Ill.