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Cropping Decisions and the Weather

19 Jun

The cropping rotation on our farm, which includes around 11 different crops every year, is planned about 5 years out.  We plan that far out because there are a lot of things to consider.  Examples such as, which crops can follow others, keeping the mix of crops at the right acreage amounts, assessing our risk with each crop, what we can get contracts for, overall economics, level of labor intensity, etc.

But also the weather…oh that darn weather.  When we get a year like this past one, it doesn’t just mean that we wear our muck boots and rain gear more, it means that we have cropping decisions that are made for us by Mother Nature.

This field of green beans is the perfect example.

  • Plan A: Plant to Tall Fescue.
    Didn’t get the ground worked in time due to many circumstances.  On to plan B…
  • Plan B: Plant Perennial Ryegrass.
    It started to rain in early October….it never really stopped until that planting window was well closed.  So plan C it is…
  • Plan C: Plant peas.
    This would have worked, but then we got a contract for another crop that could potentially be better economically.  And finally Plan D…
  • Plan D: Green beans were planted….phew!

This is a bit oversimplified in many respects, but I thought it was a good way to show how much we are the mercy of the weather.  Other factors absolutely come into play, but the weather is one that we just can’t control and is tough to protect yourself against because it can be so unpredictable.  So the weather, economics, cropping decisions…they all play a part in the answer to what seems like the very simple question, “How do you decide what to plant in what field?”

So now this field when I drive by, just sort of exhausts me…it’s been a long road, and one that I will see happy to be harvested.  Of course it’s so we can go ahead and try again next year, Mother Nature willing of course!

Happy Easter from the Field

18 Apr

When I mentioned in my “Happy birthday to my Farmer” post that Matt works at the beck and call of the weather, I wasn’t kidding!  It’s been doozy of a wet season here in Oregon.  We have been waiting, and waiting…and waiting for enough good days in a row to get crops planted, which means that our Easter plans turned a bit from the traditional.

Matt was up early to head out to the radish field.  We had to get preplant fertilizer spread, pre-emergent sprayed, work the ground another time, then finally it looked like we might get the window to get the radish seed in the ground.  Meanwhile I woke up early with the boys, threw Easter grass from the Easter Bunny all over the house, and headed to church with a few cousins.  We decided that someone better pray that we got this radish field planted ( and ask for forgiveness for working on Easter Sunday!!) The boys and I delivered lunch to the farm (because if you have people working on Sunday, you better keep them fed!), headed home for naps and then back out in the field (where the boys want to be all the time anyway!).  Hoot proved that farming can be done without pants without any problems (good to know!).  And Auggie almost kept his Easter clothes clean before we made it back to my parents for Easter dinner.

Things all went pretty smoothly, even for a Sunday.  The weather cooperated and right around dinner time the guys came in from the field, tired and hungry, we had a big dinner all ready for them.  I don’t know if they have ever earned their Easter dinner so much as this year.

This is exactly why farming can be so stressful, so risky, and such a seven day a week job.  We work when we can, because those days in some years so limited.  And I’m so grateful that I work with folks who understand when I come up to them and timidly ask if they could work on Easter Sunday, they look at you and don’t even hesitate to say yes, because they know I wouldn’t even ask if it weren’t a necessity.  They showed up, they worked hard, and we got at least one of our spring crops planted for 2017!!!  I know we weren’t the only farmers who worked all Easter to get crops in the ground, and I know that we will talk about the Easter that we planted radish, for a long time to come!

Well…it’s still raining in Oregon

22 Mar

Well we are still waiting for the rain that hit in October to stop.  Sheesh this has been a frustrating fall, winter and now spring for farming.  I’m hopeful it will turn around here soon, but I have to be, because as a farmer what else can you do but be optimistic about the weather?!

Here are a few shots of our filbert orchard.  I am still out getting pruning done, it’s coming along…slowly but surely.Also we headed out this week to check out some of the damages as the water goes down.  This is one of the smaller of the tile holes we marked.  This happens when our drainage tile (which runs underground) breaks and the water pushes up through the ground to the surface.  For now we just flag them so no one or thing falls in.  We will farm around them this year and come back in the fall to fix the drainage lines.

**My Aunt Marian just told me in comments below that my Grandpa Carl always called tile holes “suck outs”.  Which is what we still often call them today 🙂

We have had a few nice days here and there.  Fingers are still crossed for a couple, a few, a LOT more!

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