It is the start of September and completed tasks making space and reorganizing the barn for hay storage. Early summer is a much better time to clear out the winter debris, but a baby on the way and so many other important tasks kept forcing different work upon us. Today we cleared the floor and ran six trailer loads of hay. One set of squares on the right, double rolls of rounds on the left, clean lane in the middle. Here’s what the results are:
The hay on hand will cover winter. It was more expensive today then in May, but much less than it will be in February. We are blessed by a local general store called Turkey Mountain maintaining competitively priced hay on hand, despite being hauled across several county lines.
Why is it coming from the east end of Texas? Because DFW is in a back-to-back historic drought year. Last year smashed the records for the longest period without measurable rainfall. 2022 was longest stretch was 84 days. The growing season became unproductive. Everyone everywhere on craigslist selling their grandpappys 13 year old bale behind the barn for respectable rates. Think $185 a round bale, not $65.
2023 is unfortunately the same song in a different verse. The spring rain was good and made a strong first cutting of hay. Then May came and the rain slowed. By mid July it quit completely. At this writing we are on day 49 without measurable precipitation, good for the 8th longest stretch in DFW records. By the end of next week, which is forecasted without rain, good for the 3rd longest streak without rain. https://www.weather.gov/fwd/dnorain
This year, no one has grandpappys old bales anymore, all that was consumed last year. The marketplace is working though. Farmers today have the internet that didn’t exist in past decades. Last year hay distribution guys and hay balers had a handful of connections with old partners. They didn’t get ahead of the market, they caught up. They connected to new sources on the internet, over Craigslist and Facebook marketplace. This year those contacts were established already. People who are looking to get ahead for winter are able to do so.
This won’t be the last hay run we make. The winter stock is in the barn. It will need to be refilled as we’re feeding hay currently. But it sure makes tasty beef. The quality is undiminished and the cattle continue to put on weight and stay healthy. If we can make it though rough patches like this with heads above water, we’re learning valuable lessons for standard and bumper crop rainfall years to come.