Friday, May 31, 2013

Hurry Up & Wait....

And then run like mad.....

And then wait again.  And then, try to run, but breakdown, and then run like mad, get "just bout done", get soaking wet, and then wait again.  This has been the story of our Memorial Day weekend/week.

The alfalfa is planted (this should have been done way back in early April, but didn't get done until mid-May due to the late spring).
The corn & beans are planted.  This went fairly smoothly, and most are out of the ground already.

Now, its time to do hay, but the weather is not cooperating.  Haylage (anything with "-lage" just virtually means chopped up, so in this case chopped up hay) makes up almost 40% of our ration that we feed to our cows, so it is pretty important to get this done in a timely fashion.  Luckily, we still have haylage from last year, so our cows have plenty to eat, but everyday we wait to get the new crop in, the poorer quality it is.  You see, hay is not just hay.  We test our haylage frequently throughout the year to see what nutrients are available for the cows.  Brent and our nutritionist run this info through a computer program to tell us what nutrients we are missing, and then our feed company makes a custom supplement that we add to the total mixed feed ration (TMR) to make sure our cows have all the necessary nutrients.  If our haylage is better quality, containing more nutrients, we need less of, and less expensive supplement.  This is good for us financially, and good for the cows in that they get to eat the "real thing" instead of synthetic.  There has been lots of research done on the optimal time to harvest alfalfa, and that is when the the quality, which deteriorates as the crop grows, meets the quantity necessary to make it worthwhile to harvest and regrow another crop.  This is usually just as/before the plant starts to bud.
   Chopping alfalfa for haylage is a process that requires 2-3 days of dry weather.  We thought we had this necessary break last Friday thru Sunday.  So, we mowed the hay Friday morning, but alas, Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday turned out to be cool, and while not exactly wet, not exactly dry either.  Some light rain came & answered the question for sure Sunday night that we wouldn't be chopping on Monday.  And, so the hay sat, and sat, and sat.  This isn't good for the hay itself, which is sitting outside losing nutrients, nor is it good for the next crop of hay where the pile of hay is laying on top of it in the field, waiting to dry.
  Some wind and heat came along Tues & Wed.  Wednesday at noon I got a text from Brent, "We are chopping today".  WHAT!  Shocked, I scrambled home early.  Gail & I milked cows, while Warren & Brent chopped.  Then Grandma sat with Ainsley while I helped haul in.  Around 10 pm, we called it quits,

 Brent finishes packing the last load with the skidloader in the dark

but with a 70% chance of rain that night, we made sure to cover the bunker with plastic to prevent it getting wet. 
If you ever want it to rain - bait it - mow hay, leave feed bin lids open (this was done a LOT last summer in hopes of rain).  If you don't want it to rain - prepare - cover piles of hay, etc.  So, of course, we awoke to no rain on Thursday morning - while we were glad, we were a little annoyed that we went to the extra work of covering things, just to uncover it again the next morning. 
Brent & Warren finished chopping the 1st field, raked and started on the 2nd.  I came home at 1, changed, and was about to jump on the tractor when I noticed there were too many tractors in the barnyard.  The chopper tractor was backed up to the shop; uh-oh.  What was thought to be a simple fix was not, and required a trip for parts, and didn't get back up & going until milking time.  So again, Gail & I milked cows while Warren & Brent chopped.  As we watched the storm that missed us the night before get closer & closer, we all went fast & faster.  3 loads of hay were still in the wagons as the skies opened up and started to pour.  The bunker got covered as fast as we could, so hopefully, we saved as many nutrients as possible for our cows for the next year.  There are still another 25 acres of hay to go yet just for 1st crop, so let's hope we can get a real 3 days of dry weather in succession in order to finish this up, with a little less waiting and wondering - it's rains havoc on scheduling. 

And, while we are thinking about - please be careful with equipment on the road!

No comments:

Post a Comment

I encourage you to leave comments, and ask questions to your heart's content. However, please be respectful. I reserve the right to remove derogatory or irrelevant comments.