Tuesday, October 20, 2009

And the rain continues....

God has blessed us with a handful of dry days this past weekend and early week, however the radar is showing a line of rain/thunderstorms looming to the west and closing in. It's be a difficult growing season this year. We started the spring with cool wet conditions. This summer was also cool, but dry and this fall is also cool and WET! We are definitely making up for the dry summer with all of the rain we are receiving right now. This wet weather is preventing us from getting into the field and bringing in the harvest. Our corn and soybeans are all too wet to combine. We would like our corn to be at least below 20% moisture, but right now it is 31-37% moisture. Without sun and warm temperatures, the drying process is becoming more difficult.

In addition to slowing harvest, we are also postponing some critical fall activities. After combining our soybeans and corn, we return to the fields to harvest the foliage from those plants. We bale the dry soybean plants into round bales for bedding for our heifers. We bale the remaining soybean plants in small square bales to be chopped in the calf barn-making for happy, comfy, dry calves =) We chop the dry corn plants and make them into large stacks. We will take scoops of this bedding to bed in our dry cows and feed some of our heifers and dry cows. Cows love to chew on dry corn stalks! Actually cows like to chew on a lot of things.

After we harvest the bedding we spread manure, lots of manure. Manure from cows, dry cows, heifers and calves. We need to make sure we have clean animals for the winter. Also fall is the best time of the year for manure application. We reduce compaction by hauling in the fall compared to the spring. We are also able to incorporate the manure into the soil through fall tillage (plowing, digging) thereby saving the valuable nutrients in the manure to be used by the 2010 crop! Hauling manure is critical to keeping the cows clean and dry but also critical for our crops. Manure saves us money. If we capture all of the nutrients and organic matter available in manure we are able to save the cost of commercial fertilizer that we would have used. Another added benefit is that manure is great for making good soil! Because manure is natural-worms and soil microbes LOVE manure!

When we finish manure hauling...then we have to do fall tillage. Tillage means plowing some fields (using an implement that flips the soil over so the soil surface is underground). We also dig some other fields with an implement called a DMI. The DMI leaves the soil surface on the top, but digs deep into the soil breaking up compaction, making the soil soft for the spring.

So, Dear God...please make the rain stop, at least until the harvest in is, and we have so much to do before snow season!

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