Monday, October 12, 2009

When will the sun shine?

"Rain." It's hard for me to even type that word these days without a feeling of hopelessness washing over me. Our best laid plans of finally beginning our silage harvest this week have been thwarted by nearly an inch of rain that has fallen since midnight, an inch of rain that is expected to be joined by about three more inches over the next three days.

Our sorghum, which ideally would all be chopped and packed into silage pits by now, is still standing in muddy fields with no expectation of being harvested for at least another seven days. The bottom leaves are beginning to dry, a sure sign that the crop has hit maturity and quality is beginning to diminish. This process is going to speed up rapidly if the crop is frosted on, a real possibility if our coming weekend's low temperatures do drop to around 42 degrees as the forecast suggests they will.

In the grand scheme of things, the rain we're getting is probably needed. If you'll recall I began this blog in 2007, a year in which a severe drought left us with nearly a 30 inch rainfall deficit. Last year's precipitation was about average, and so far this year we're looking at a 20+ inch surplus. Our aquifers needed recharging, and all this rainfall is helping to do that. But since we all live and usually focus on the present, this rain couldn't be coming at a worse time. It's not just because it is delaying and will ultimately limit/diminish our harvest. It's because this is happening in a year where we've suffered through abysmal prices for our milk. And though that price is very slowly creeping up, our cows' production over the last few weeks has been below what we are accustomed to them giving this time of year. Buying additional feed to make up for our silage shortfall is going to be a painful but necessary exercise.

Somewhere in the midst of this "perfect storm" of adversity lies an opportunity and a path towards a successful future. I don't know if that means gritting our teeth and simply riding out the storm or if it means making major changes in the way we manage our farm. Whatever the answer may be, the best option is probably somewhere in the middle ground.

In the meantime, we'll continue to go about our daily chores thankful for the blessings we do have and with a stubborn determination to not allow 2009 to be the year that puts an end to over 55 years of hard work. We WILL survive this rough stretch, and hopefully we'll come out of it even stronger than before. But even though I'm convinced we still have years of successful dairy farming ahead of us, I can't help but wonder, both literally and figuratively, "when will the sun shine?"

2 comments:

annie said...

Only more months and we can say good-bye 2009!
I can't wait to see what 2010 has got for us!

Anonymous said...

I just found this blog through Dairy Herd Management. What a great idea to communicate with consumers! Keep up the good work!
Amey