September 11, 2012

God Made a Farmer -

Check out the link to the YouTube video "God Made a Farmer" the voice is that of the late Paul Harvey.  Paul Harvey's voice was on rural radio stations every weekday with news and commentary and he always knew "The Rest of the Story".  As a kid I grew up listening to him at noon nearly every day that we didn't have school.  I borrowed this from another Nebraska Farmer and blogger.  The link to the blog is also above the pictures are from their farm in NorthEastern Ne.  I felt that this slide show and poem needed to be re-shared this year as we could all use a little reminding why "God made Farmers" and reminding that we were chosen for this job not because it is always easy, but because we have the ability to figure out some way to produce food for others even when Mother Nature gives it her best to stop us.  Maybe some day Mother Nature will realize that no matter what she throws at us Farmers we will figure out someway to make it all work.
Usually major and minor things that effect those of us out here in the middle of now where don't make the news in the big cities.  Heck it usually doesn't even make our "local" news.  This year everybody in the US has probably heard that we are experiencing one of the worst droughts in history and it has been compared to the drought in the 1980's and I have even heard some meteorologist comparing this drought during the dirty 30's.  For those that don't get to see first hand what extremely high temperatures, strong hot winds, and no rain for nearly 12 months will do to our pastures, fields, and livestock let me tell you it is heartbreaking and it has not been a real fun year.  The past few months I doubt there isn't a single farmer in the US that has not been on their knees many times praying for better days and I bet there has definitely been a lot of tears of sadness shed over current situation and the unknown future. 

Over the past few months much like the majority of major food producing states, Nebraska has moved from abnormally dry to what the experts call "Exceptionally Dry".  In other words we went from "not too bad" to it is sooo dry that the jack rabbits have to pack a lunch just to make it across the section (1 section = 640 acres = 1 square mile)
 Even as bad as the current situation looks right now we can be thankful at our farm that we are not as bad off as some other farmers.  There has been 100's of thousands of livestock sold due to the lack of forage to sustain them, fires have burned 1000's of acres of already drought stressed pasture land, and non-irrigated crops have dried up and withered to complete nothing.  At our farm we will have enough grass in the pasture to get us to corn harvest.  We "stockpile" forage from previous years, so even though the grass is brown, dry, and not as palatable to the cows as they would prefer, their is something for them to eat.  Praise the Lord that corn harvest is here 30 days ahead of schedule this year and that we were able to find "extra" acres of corn fields for the cows to graze this fall and winter.  We weaned our calves 30 days earlier than normal to leave more grass for the cows.  Our hay crop has been short, even the hay that is irrigated.  We learned that it doesn't matter if you water it if the hot winds blow every day for 45 days in a row and the temps reach well over 100 degrees grass and alfalfa just doesn't not grow well under those weather conditions. Thank goodness I work at an ethanol plant and have the ability to get wet distillers grain to feed the cattle that is high in protein and energy.  We were also able to purchase enough wheat straw and corn stalk bales to fill in the gaps of the small hay crop.  The use of distillers grain makes it possible for us to feed the cows low quality (low in protein and energy) forages while still keeping them healthy and productive.  We normally only feed it to the cows during calving, but this year we may have to feed this diet a little earlier than normal.  The calves normally get fed a distiller grain/low quality forage diet from the day they are weaned to the day we ship them, so at least there is 1 thing that didn't have to be changed to adjust to the drought!!  In "normal" years (what ever normal is) we take advantage of the longer days and warmer temps to get lots of "other" projects done.  This year we have accomplished absolutely ZERO of the extra tasks we wanted to get done before the snow flies (praying the snow does fly this year).  We have been putting in extra long hours just to keep up with irrigating the corn and hauling water to the pastures. 
Irrigation water running down the row of corn.  This is the last drink of water the corn will see before it is harvested.

Due to the lack of spring rains the stock dam (a pond that catches and holds run off from spring rainstorms) that cattle drink from was bone dry by early June.  There is only 1 windmill in that pasture and it has not been able to keep up. 
The neighbor called 1 afternoon to see if we needed him to start the water filling in the tank we use to haul water to the pasture.  I told him that would be a great help and save us some time (takes 3 hours to fill this tank with 1700 gal of water).  When I got home I found that he didn't check the valve and the tank was still empty.  Thankful for his thoughtfulness and that my yard got watered.

So we took 2 extra tanks out and about every other day since June we hauled 1700 gallons of water to fill the extra tanks.  We had windmill problems at another pasture late June and July (when it was the hottest) and had to haul water to that pasture too for a while.  Normally we check the cattle 1-2 times a week, this year we have been checking them every other day which has meant extra time spent driving to the 3 pastures to make sure the cattle had plenty of water to drink and that they were not experiencing too much heat stress.

A sigh of relief when you drive to the windmill and find 2 FULL tanks of water.  This is only enough water to last this group of cows 2 days if the wind doesn't blow (to keep filling the tanks) when it is 100+ degrees.
Even though there is a lot of doom and gloom hanging around the agriculture industry, we are thankful that the lord has given us the tools we need to make it work this year, and the knowledge to be creative enough to beat mother nature at her own game...for now....  As bad as I do not like snow and winter, we are praying for a very snowing winter and spring to bring the moisture we need so that the grass will grow for next year.
Thankful to have a healthy set of calves.  These have been weaned for about 2 weeks.  You can see the dust on the behind the calves on the right side of the picture.  They only walked about 10-15 yards to meet me at the gate and our ground is soooo dry just walking the calves stir up dust.  We have been wetting the pens down to help with the dust.

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