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Farm Stuff...

A farm post. It's that time of year again. The cow breeders next door have plenty of acreage for hay elsewhere, but they cut our five acre field every year. Usually after Miss E's birthday, which is now 4 days away. They say the cows like that change of hay. Comfort food. At any rate, they cut late last Friday or was it this Monday? Then they baled yesterday. They usually leave them in the field, but this year they were gone before I could count them and I had to call for a count or whatever. Eleven bales. Last year, the yield was 24.5 bales. These are small round bales as opposed to the huge ones. About the size they tore apart on Amazing Race in Sweden, if you've ever seen that road block.

Around here, you can get two cuts. One should be done around Memorial Day and one late in the summer. Linda told me last night that the second cut usually yields half what the first cut does. But because they're usually so busy cutting more than 100 acres of their own fields, they cut our 5 acres once in late July. The top is dry, but there's good stuff underneath. So this cut was about 2-3 weeks earlier than usual. And it was half the yield. Everywhere she's cut this year, it's half the yield. Which means local hay prices will go through the roof. And this stuff is only suitable for cows, who can eat anything. Horses can't.

A wet, cold spring followed by 18 record-tying days above 90 degrees (F) in June. We don't get heat like that in June, not for almost 3 weeks straight. And very little rain with that. When the heat sets in, we don't get much rain. So while the humidity level has been mercifully low and the ground was mercifully pre-saturated, it wasn't good hay weather. The lawn grass was growing like crazy up to two weeks ago. Now it's settled into a late-summer pattern of growth. No need to mow every 5 days.

The blueberry crop has been better than last year's. So I guess it was right that the bushes were resting. But I still need to prune them in the winter, the stalks are getting wild. The Dude mowed over the raspberry patch, it was so choked with weeds. The later blueberries are smaller with less rain to swell them. At the end of May, the local strawberries were huge and moist and wonderful. Thirty days is a huge difference in our crops.

A wary eye is being kept on climate and rain. We came out of a several-years drought just about a year ago and I'm not anxious to repeat it, not living on a fairly shallow well, though it's held up all eight years we've been here. And yes, as of yesterday, it's been eight years on Walkabout Farm. Longer than we've lived anywhere. And now longer than I ever lived anywhere in my life.

In good financial news, my mortgage broker called and said that my bank was offering selective refinances with no closing costs. An "at home" refi. 30 year fixed at almost a point lower. The CPA says yes, we'll take that deal. It starts the clock over again and I'm quite sure the bank makes money this way, my broker makes money. It's the same balance. And we refinanced from an ARM last year, so it's not like I'm spreading the remaining balance over 30 years instead of 20; more like 31 instead of 30.

Frog Out



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 1st, 2010 04:03 pm (UTC)
There's a saying here in Spain, "Like water in May." It means rainfall in May, the right time to make the crops grow best, something like "the million-dollar rain" in Iowa, because the right rain at the right time means that much to farmers. Wheat has already been harvested in the south. Here in the central plateau, it's time to start. The hot, dry summer has begun.

We had a cold, wet winter, followed by a more or less average spring. That means good crops, but it also means that the underbrush in the forests has grown a lot. It will start to dry out soon. And catch fire. Forest fires can be a serious problem.

Cherries are in season right now. A late hailstorm damaged the Jerte Valley crop in western Spain, but the dark, intense, sweet picotas from northern Spain did fine, and there's about two pounds of them in my refrigerator. They won't last long.
Jul. 1st, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
Ah. A comment that understands! Thank you! Farming is the oddest gamble.

And the Washington State cherries have arrived, the truly dark sweet ones from Yakima and Wenatchee. I wait for them every year and make a pig of myself. Thank goodness your crop wasn't damaged.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )