Cowboy’s Faith: Grass Turned To Hay – Osage County Online
“At least the cattle will have food next winter.
Certainly, many rakes and hay balers have been moving at a rapid pace in recent days.
Glad to have what appeared to be a bumper crop, there was an urgent need to wrap the dried bromine before the rains came.
Not a great student in crops and soils lessons, lessons are best learned when they dive into the wallet. The production of cultivated grass depends mainly on two things: fertilizers and weather conditions.
Much less expense when the bromine is not fertilized, but experience has shown that there is a very low yield without the addition of nitrogen.
Yet even when all soil and fertilizer testing recommendations are followed, Mother Nature still has primary power.
Agronomists may have a different philosophy, but apparently weather can also be a double-edged sword. Heavy precipitation at the precise time needed is quite significant, coupled with spring temperatures not too hot too early. Earthlings have absolutely no control over these influencing factors, despite many unsuccessful scientific attempts throughout the ages.
Oh, there are other issues that can often reduce bromine yields with something new that pops up fairly regularly. Diseases have tried to wreak havoc, and other plants such as bluegrass and barbon are trying to dominate.
High yields require thick foliage, not just long stems with seed heads on them. However, tall, thick grass can be easily flattened by wind and rain, creating extra hard work for the harvesters.
When the bromine is crushed and does not have time to straighten out, a rake will frequently clog. With temperatures over 100 degrees and record humidity, it’s a big job to clean up. Sometimes loud and very aggravated remarks could be made by the ranch worker. With a soaked and damp shirt and jeans, drops of sweat rolled under the cap and down his face.
The haymaking process has changed dramatically over the past 50 years, not to mention the previous century. The ancients still stored hay in large outdoor haystacks after most farmers had small round and square balers.
Tractors fitted with sickles cut the grass, which dried, then was raked into swaths and baled. With the advent of single-operation rakes and large round balers, haymaking became a much easier task but with many dilemmas.
Reminder from Proverbs 10: 5: “To make hay when the sun is shining is smart, but to go fishing during the harvest is foolish. “
Frank J. Buchman is a longtime Alta Vista rancher, lifetime newspaper writer, unionized national farm writer, and radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.