Hi Everyone, I hope you survived the New Year, and now we are onto regular time.
I just received a nice note from John Sturtevant, the farmer we profiled last March. He has sent a couple of other updates, and now writes a summary for his farm year for your reading enjoyment. (John grows alfalfa hay and dry beans in the Columbia Basin, Washington).
“Things turned out fine this year as they always seem to. The big challenge for this season was the wind and to a lesser extent, the rain. Both of these things can make a hay farmer’s life tough.
In May, my 1st cutting of alfalfa ran late, because it rained on the just-cut-windrows* of hay. This made it difficult to get the hay dry enough for baling. We patiently waited for the hay to dry, and finish baling the first week of June, which was about one week later than I had planned.
In July, our 2nd cutting of alfalfa was harvested without a hitch. We were able to put up some top-notch hay, which was easy to sell to our export hay buyer. It was pretty and green, and was baled with just the right amount of dew to soften the stems and leaves. Some of this hay is already in Japan being fed to their dairy cows.
This would be the end of our luck with the weather.
In August, our 3rd cutting alfalfa started out with a windstorm, which happened 5 days after the hay was cut. Our nice STRAIGHT, ready-to-bale windrows were scattered like twisted worms all over the field. We baled what we could, picked up the bales and then re-raked the entire field again to gather the loose scraps of hay, and then we baled again! It was A LOT of extra work, but we got through it without too much wasted or damaged hay .
4th cutting, in September, was a replay of 3rd cutting, with another giant wind and thunderstorm after the hay had been drying for 3 days. This storm was much stronger, though, and packed rain with it. When the storm had passed, it had blown the windrows of hay around, and even twisted a wheelline around. AND, I had dry red beans drying in rows, and the storm blew them all over the place.
After raking and turning the hay, I got it baled, though it took awhile to dry because September was cooler. The beans had just been combined into their rows, and it was disheartening to see such a mess, but I got them combined (harvested) with a nice yield.
Sometimes it seems like all the bad weather happens in one year.”
*A windrow is made when the farmer, harvesting the crop, uses a big combine or threshing machine to cut and then funnel the crop into a long, narrow row for drying before bringing the crop into the grainery or barn. In this story, both alfalfa hay and dry red beans were in windrows.