Rain and Dairy Farming
The weather has a huge impact on dairy farming. Believe it or not, it can actually make or break a year for us.
Take the summer of 2012, for example. Many of my friends and family who are not farmers loved that summer – hot and dry, with plenty of beach days to enjoy. However, I don’t think I could find a single one of my farming friends who weren’t stressed. Too hot and too dry meant crops weren’t growing, and money was lost either in low crop yields or the need to buy feed to replace what didn’t grow for our livestock. I will never forget that year, but remembering it also brings a sense of relief because we survived it.
This year has been different. It has been an odd year all over the place. Due to an unusually cold, long winter farmers got into the fields later than usual, which is stressful because we only have so many days for our crops to mature, or fully grow, before we can harvest them. Those days have to be ideal growing days, not the cooler, wet days we have ended up with. Thankfully, our corn grew well and seems to have matured just fine, but not without many days of questioning whether it was going to make it.
Our hay is another story. This is the first time I remember working on first, second and third cuttings all at the same time. Either it wasn’t growing at the usual rate due to the cooler temps, or there weren’t enough consecutive dry days to get all the hay we needed harvested. We still aren’t done, and the last I checked there is only one dry day in our 10 day forecast. A single dry day is not enough time to harvest anything. Also, all this rain could potentially saturate the ground, keeping us out of the fields until it dries. So, for now we wait it out, hopefully not for too long.
You may be starting to wonder how a farmer can keep a positive outlook, the weather is so unpredictable and we are left with no choice but to deal with whatever comes our way. Sometimes it’s just not fair. But, there’s always a positive to every story. The rain, however unwelcome, gives us an opportunity to slow down, and we are thankful for the long, rainy days spent with our family, the break from everything that has to get done outside, and the opportunity to work on that long list of things we have to do inside. Rain also provides a nice drink for our crops as they grow throughout the summer, giving us higher yields than we experience when it is unusually dry, like in 2012. Farming and faith go hand in hand. We have faith the weather will change and we will be able to get everything done, so in the meantime we do something else. There is always something to do on a farm.
Before I became a farmer, the rain, a drought, a deep freeze, an ice storm, too much or too little snow, and not enough sunshine were all things I rarely worried about. Now, as a farmer, they are always on my mind, in addition to worrying about planting deadlines, harvesting, and our crops’ survival. Yes, the weather is a big deal to farmers, but the best part is that we are not alone, and together we all get through it one week, one season, one year at a time.