Too Much of a Good Thing

Every farmer – conventional or alternative, crop or livestock – relies on rain. Farms fail without rain. It’s that simple. Every living thing requires water to grow. But there is such a thing as too much rain. We have reached that point.

Rain is good to the point the ground can absorb it. The water soaks into the ground and nourishes the root systems of whatever plants you are growing, be they grass or corn or wheat or tomatoes. Once the ground is saturated, the rain becomes run off.

Take a dry sponge. Dump a spoonful of water on it then pick it up. The counter underneath is likely still dry. Keep pouring spoonfuls of water over it. At some point it will stop absorbing that water and the liquid will run all over the counter. That’s how the ground works.

Between all the melting snow and the rain, the ground is completely saturated. In some areas the water pools up creating fun mud puddles. In others all the excess runs downhill to the creek.

That's me ankle-deep in mud

That’s me ankle-deep in mud

As it runs down hill, it takes soil and nutrients with it. This is erosion and isn’t good. We want all the nutrients from the cow manure to stay on our pastures and, to be perfectly honest, manure nutrients aren’t considered nutrients once they hit the creek. No one wants manure in their water. So you see, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. And we’ve had way too much precipitation!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the animals don’t care about rain or snow or holidays or stomach bugs. They expect grass (or hay as it were) every morning. If we get wet feeding them, that’s our problem, not theirs.

 

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20140114_0020Other than chores and sorting a few of the steers, there wasn’t much worth getting wet for today. Sure there were things to do, like working on the new irrigation system Ryan is designing for the broiler houses. But that won’t be needed for at least another 3 months and wasn’t worth tearing up the pastures with the 4-wheelers. So we drank coffee, chatted, and dealt with some paperwork that had been ignored for too long. I kind of miss the craziness of summer.

 

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