Farming…It’s more about Slugs than Glamour

First of all I would like to thank all our service men & women!  I know I’m a day late for Veterans Day, but I would like to say “Thank You!” just the same…

Farming is dirty, it’s messy, truth be told most of the time it’s rather grimy.  But never did I think about some of the jobs being somewhat, well, very disgusting.  During the winter months we have a pest that has seems to creep up more and more as the years go by.  They start about 18 inches in the ground and slowly slime their way up when they get hungry.  Once they get to the top and see the beautiful night sky they start to eat, and eat, and eat.  They eat so much that if they happen to find themselves in a sweet tasting baby grass field, they can eat 5 acres in a night, with nothing slowing them down.

One of my more disgusting jobs on the farm…finding and killing slugs.  Now these guys aren’t your typical household banana slugs roaming around out there.  They are smaller, faster, love to reproduce type of slugs.  Not these guys…

Our slug issues look more like this…

Yes, grossly enough those are tiny little slugs, all gathered around getting a late night snack from some blue colored bait.  Thousands…we have thousands of these little guys, an they can be extremely destructive to our grass fields.  Here are a few slimy facts about the grey field slug…

1. You can have up to 1/2 million per acre!

2. In a field that is high in population they can eat several tons of organic matter per month.

3. They lay up to 500 eggs in their 2 year lifespan.

4. They hatch new eggs every 2-3 weeks.

5. They can move up to 30 feet in one night.

Here are some pictures of a field that I decided to spray with liquid bait just the other day.  I decided this because of all the slugs that I found crowded around the bait station (pictured above) and also because the field was look pretty weak in certain areas.  Below you will see what I mean by weak…

Pretty good part of the field, very green!

Still green, but more brown areas that have been eaten down.

Not sure if this part of the field will even come back for harvest this summer.

So as you can see, those slimy buggers that might just seem annoying to a homeowner with a garden or flowers, they are a huge threat and have to be monitored constantly this time of year.  Not just to save this year’s crop, but also to make sure that the numbers don’t get up to a half million per acre in the years to come.  Also one of our best defenses to this problem is tillage, a reason why no tillage or minimum tillage has become a tough thing to do in our area.

And to all of you who are going to suggest putting beer out in our fields…we don’t do it, alcohol abuse hello!! 🙂

With Adversity comes Diversity on our Operation

Just a few days ago we received some tough news from one of the company’s that we grow for. They were no longer going to be doing business and handling the crop that we contracted to grow with them. At first I was very upset, it’s most frustrating because we had already planted half of that certain crop, the other half of the acres was still bare ground. There was an article in the paper saying that the farmers were not effected too much because we had lots of options for crops to still plant. Unfortunately that is not the whole truth, and as of Tuesday it was looking more like summer fallowing our land was our only option.

But this isn’t a blog about our hard times, and it isn’t about the company and what they did wrong. Honestly I truly feel like they did their best and treated us very fairly, this is just one of those things that happens, that’s terrible and hurts not only us as farmers, but our industry as a whole. This blog is more about how in the past two days I have learned about what to do when everything seems to be going well, and all the sudden someone shows up at your farm and the whole scenario changes.

I know for a fact that we aren’t the only ones hurt by this substantial shift. There is an entire industry here in the Willamette Valley that will struggle through this challenge. Also there are many people who were employed because of this company who are going to be hurting. It’s a tough deal, but it’s also life. I just hope that we can all keep moving on, working hard, and being thankful for our blessings we have now.

I have learned that you can’t just give up and take a trip to Hawaii, although that crossed my mind many times! You have to dig in, start calling, start working hard, and figuring out what you need to change to make this work for your operation. For us we have chosen to grow a new crop that we have never grown before. I’m looking forward to learn something new, and also excited to see if this can be something that will work into our operation for years to come. The future is yet to be seen, and I don’t know for sure that everything will all work out in the end. But I did learn that even when the rug is pulled out from under you, you can get upset and moan and complain, or you pick up and move forward. I’ve always been told that farming is a gamble, but until this week I never really understood the stress of what that can mean.  I’m hoping that we can look back at this adversity and be thankful because in the end it led our farm down a healthy path of more diversity.

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