Difficult Season for Most Farmers

By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate

It’s quite obvious this has been one of the wettest summers we have experienced in this region since….last summer.  Last year we farmers had difficult time getting hay in and crops planted and this year had to show up last year.  So what exactly has been happening during one of the busiest seasons for those of us dedicated to the agriculture field?

Here at Hickory Orchard Farm on top of Pifer Mountain, things have been full throttle for the last couple months.  Hay has been quite difficult to get baled with the lack of three consecutive days without rain.  As of now, we have two farms left to make hay on and we can finally say hay season is a wrap.  Unfortunately, one of those farms will be square baled which means far more manual labor will be necessary.

The cattle have been meandering around lazily from pasture to pasture as we rotate them between fields with adequate grass growth.  Inspecting the herd from time to time for any early signs of pink eye is important as the flies have been in full force this summer.  Thankfully, with our spring vaccinations, the chances are lower for the cattle to contract this disease, though not impossible.

The chickens have been laying well and assisting in controlling the bug population as they peck around.  We have recently added to the “zoo” we call home by gaining a breeding pair of Flemish Giant rabbits.  This is the start of our kids’ rabbitry for their 4-H projects.  They are quite minimal in their needs as long as they have their hay, fresh water, and grain.  The kids make sure they get turned out twice a day during the cooler temperatures to allow them to graze in the yard.  On the hotter days we’ve had, it’s important to make sure they stay cool with all of their fur.  We added ice cubes to their water bottles and took a couple empty pop bottles and filled half way with water to freeze.  The kids then put them in the shaded boxes of their hutch so they can lie against them as needed to cool their body temperature.

As for the horses, my husband has been training some client’s horses while we have been showing ours.  He competes in cattle sorting and penning while I barrel race.  We attempt to aid in the flies on our horses by providing fly masks, however they apparently find them in default of their fashion statement and insist on taking them off in the field for us to try to find.

“Down on the Burns Farm, we are busy, busy, busy like any other farmer this time of year,” said Lydia Burns.  “Thankfully we got our hay done early so that is one thing checked off the list.”  Her and husband Logan have been busy brush hogging and rebuilding fence all summer which has been enough to keep them busy.  “We have been rotating the goats in different lots throughout the summer,” she added.  “They actually have played a huge part in brush hogging this summer.  Goats love harder greenery, so multi-floral roses are perfect for them,” she explained.  “Once they eat it down, we come through with the brush hog to finish them off, so the goats have been very content this summer.”

The Burns’ billy goat is in with their nannies for the breeding season as well.  “We hope to have all our babies in January and February,” L. Burns said.  “We recently purchased some more nannies so we are eager to see what kind of babies our nannies will have.”  She concluded, “Any farmer can tell you there is never a down day or season, are always busy, busy, busy!”

On Don Adams Farm on Limestone Road, things are no different with being busy and battling the weather.  They have recently finished harvesting their oats and are trying to get their straw baled.  “We are trying to get finished up first cutting hay,” Adams stated, while they are currently also making second cutting.  “I don’t know of anybody who’s gotten along well with hay,” he allowed.  Adams also has corn planted in several different locations and they are watching constantly for signs of leaf disease while waiting for it to mature.  He is also getting ready to clip a few of his pastures that overgrew with the significant amount of rain we have gotten in the area.

Looking at the livestock side of things, Adams is also preparing his farrowing room for five sows due with piglets between now and the first of September.  They are also preparing for pre-weaning vaccinations in their cattle to begin the weaning process around the beginning of September as well.  “We wean for sixty days before shipping them out,” he explained.  And as if that isn’t enough, they have a construction project underway on the farm as they are putting an addition on one of their barns.  Adams noted it is close to being ready to put under roof, which will be a relief to have off the list.

From reading this article regarding just a couple local farmers, you can easily see why very few of us take a vacation during the summer months.  As we are out there working diligently to finish our summer tasks, there is a good chance you will encounter equipment on the road in rural areas.  Please use caution when travelling near these farmers and their machinery to ensure everyone’s safety.

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