Monday, May 28, 2012

Reset the Clock

This is our busiest time of year – everything needs to be done at once, and every day that we delay in accomplishing each job will cost us in the end.

We have farming to do:
There are fields that need to be worked and seeded.  The earlier that we get the seed into the ground, the better crop we will get.  And the plants need to get their roots down while there is still good spring moisture near the surface, so that when the hot days come they are able to reach down further in the soil as that moisture recedes.

We have irrigating to do:
It’s been a dry winter and spring.  We want to fill the soil moisture profile in the hayfields before the plants get taller and demand more moisture to keep growing.  If those plants run out of moisture, they will go dormant and quit growing – resulting in a diminished hay crop.
But before we can start irrigating we had to repair the leak in the north ditch with several dumptruck loads of dirt, and replace several sections of gated pipe that shattered during the sub-zero temps.

We have fencing to do:
We had to repair the border fence in the first field into which we turned out cows.  We’ll rotate rapidly through all the pastures – once a week through June – so need to repair all the damage from wind, snow, and elk, to 25 miles of fence before we turn cattle in.

We have weeds to spray:
The hound’s tongue and thistle are coming on quickly in the field in which we held the pairs for the last month.  Of necessity, it gets over-grazed for that period when the grass is just starting to grow, but before it is ready to graze. 
In years past we have spent a lot of time controlling the poison larkspur that had been a problem in the upper pastures.  That has allowed us to get off the river bottoms and up on the mountain earlier in the summer, and ending overgrazing down below. 
But weed control is a never-ending task:  If you ever back off, the weeds will get ahead of you, and it will take years more to catch up.

For awhile the weather was warm and dry, and we were hurrying to accomplish as many of those tasks as possible.  This week the weather is cool and wet.  That puts a kink in accomplishing most of the above projects.
But at the same time, that cool, wet weather slows down the need to get them done. 

The fields aren’t drying out, and the weeds aren’t growing so fast. And thus our desperate need to beat the clock with farming, irrigating, and spraying.  Our clock is stopped for the duration of the rain,
               and it resets again when the sun comes out.

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