Sometimes all the planning and forethought in the world can’t save you from fate. This coming week on the farm is going to be nothing short of Hell Week. The amount of work that must be jammed into the next 5 days is daunting to say the least.
I think that any non-farmer would be astounded at the amount of planning it takes to run and manage a large(ish) farm. Pretty much every waking moment is spent planning the year, that month, the week and the very next moment. Whatever you are doing at any given moment, farmers always need to be thinking about what comes next. Unfortunately, sometimes all the planning in the world can’t keep all the pieces from colliding.
We (and when I say we, I mean Aaron!) create a grazing plan every winter for the coming spring, summer and fall. It is fully planned what path each herd will follow to maximize grass and forage productivity. It changes drastically each year, so that pastures that you graze in the fall one year will get a break the next fall, and so on. One major consideration is making sure that each herd will pass by one of two yards in late July so that they can be brought in and the calves can be processed (vaccinated, tagged and branded).
Late July is not the traditional time period for brandings. Many are done in May, or June. Because we calve into June, those times would not work for us. We need to make sure all the calves have hit the ground before we start branding. We also like late July because it usually falls in-between the two cuts of hay, and before silage season. Usually. This week we have 1200 pairs that need to be brought in, sorted (cows, calves and dry cows), and processed.
This year has been an odd one. The lack of rain for the first three months of the growing season meant our hay crop is about 20% of what it usually is, so we had to get creative with finding feed for the coming winter. We were lucky to have 1000 acres of oats that were meant to be combined (I say lucky, but again that is where the planning comes in), that could be baled for greenfeed. It has all been cut, but we finally caught a rain last week, so now all 1000 acres need to be baled this week.
Every year we silage the land that has been freshly seeded down to forages. We silage those acres because they are seeded with a bit of oats, which makes good feed, and because it helps the little forage seedlings grow better if those oats are removed early on. We don’t own our own silage equipment, so we get a custom silaging crew in from Manitoba to help us out. This usually happens in early August, but this year’s drought ment that the crop matured much earlier than usual. The crew will be here this week, so they need need to be organized, and fed and helped.
Although we have been planning for this work for the past 9 months, it was supposed to happen over a month long period. Not a week!
1200 pairs to bring in, sort, process and move back out. 1000 acres to bale. 800 acres to silage. A dozen men to feed each day. And the brain power to keep it all organized.
Thank the lord we have awesome people the work with us, or none of it would be possible!
I better get out there – I hear the chorus of bellows that mean #branding15 is starting!