'Tis the Season.......for MUD
Spring and summer of 2021 brought us record setting drought and heat. The 'heat dome' sat on us for nearly a month, sending temperatures into triple digits day after day with little relief at night. This was a difficult time for us and for the animals to be sure. Our pastures dried out very early - mid June - and we were forced to start feeding hay. We were very fortunate to have a few big bales left from the previous winter but we started purchasing hay in July. Years like this are tough on farms. Many of our fellow small producers were forced to take animals to auction because they couldn't afford to feed them. Again we were fortunate and were able to make it work, but we will see the consequences in our bottom line.
Now Mother Nature is having a good laugh and sending us more moisture than we can handle! I won't complain but I bet the animals will be very happy when the deep freeze comes. It's hard to see them standing in mud all day. At least they all have a place to go to get out of the rain and the mud so that helps. We've put so much time and money into all the shelters for the animals and still don't have our house finished! Such is life when you are building a farm from scratch.
We made a big purchase this year - a no till drill for seeding our pastures. We are so excited! We got a spring cover crop in at the beginning of June but the drought prevented it from doing much.
Our timing was much better for the winter cover crop. We had some tricale/austrian pea seed mix around from a previous project so we got that into several of the sheep pastures just before the rain started. It's coming up SO nice! This cover crop is intended to get some growth before winter, then die back with the freezing temperatures but the roots will still be there. In spring, it will come up early, outcompeting the undesirable grasses (Ventanata and bulbous bluestem). The sheep will be able to graze it down for us early in the year and then we will put in a summer crop they can graze late in the summer. Several rotations of this will greatly improve our soil conditions and help eliminate weeds. Then we can plant a good pasture grass mix to sustain our critters year after year.
Having our own seeder has made this possible. Once we get the hang of it, we can hire ourselves out to work other people's small acreages. In the meantime....mud!