July 15, 2024

From the Pastures: Demand remains strong

Hello from Graze-N-Grow. As I write this we are halfway through our lamb slaughter event. This celebration involves eating the native foods along with processing the lambs, so Ruth and I are introduced to some new — to us — foods and customs as we welcome these families to our farm. Since we had to hold over some old crop male lambs to have them over 6 months old instead of starting our lambing season in early December, I think we will not be participating in this annual event next year when it will fall on June 5 or 6.

When we started selling to them for this holiday it was the middle of November, which allowed for a good-sized winter-born lamb. Harvest was over at that time, so it better fit our farming schedule. Now cultivation can be interrupted, so the preparation needed to host such an event is too much. For those who wish to have fall lambing, it would be an opportunity since there are fewer lambs available for this market. I’ve turned away many offers to buy many more than I had available.

While this was going on we had a welcomed, though not forecasted, four-tenths of an inch downpour Sunday afternoon. What a relief to us, as well as the crops. Some corn was starting to roll up from stress lately. Since we’ve been missing several forecasted rain events this spring, I think the weather forecasters have as much credibility as our politicians lately.

The pastures are still holding up well and our oat and pea regrowth is ready for grazing again. Some pastures that were underutilized may need clipping since sheep don’t trample like cattle, but maybe it’s only for cosmetic purposes that I do it. It’s good to be in the livestock business with prices that can compare favorably with current grain prices and the manure on the annual grazing crops can alleviate some of the organic fertilizer costs that have gone up lately.

We continue to get a few more dairy/beef bucket calves from the Bohnert Jersey herd, even as they have been flooded with potential new buyers. Their only solution is to raise prices, but they have been conservative with that. It seems that they have heard the same reports as I had of 2-day-old calves bringing $10 a pound recently. I was hoping they hadn’t heard. All in all, it seems as cow numbers are not yet increasing and consumer demand for beef remains strong, so this spell of good fat and feeder cattle demand should continue for a while — unless, of course, that ugly black swan makes an appearance.

In the midst of these troubling and decisive times, let’s not forget we still live in the greatest country in the world. So, let’s all celebrate that blessing on our country’s upcoming birthday. Happy trails.

Jim Draper

Jim Draper

Sheffield, Ill.