Sunday, September 30, 2012

Drought Post-Script

Dry weather caused most of us to miss out on half our hay crop this year, which in this part of the world is a really big deal. Hay prices are up and hay tonnage is way down in spite of significant rains in August. As hard as it may be to believe from looking at the lush pictures we still have an 8 inch moisture deficit which is fairly severe. It wouldn't take much dry weather to put us back into a grass killing drought situation. We're sure hoping that the extra 3.6 million gallons of water it would take to bring our farm back to normal falls between now and next spring. However, we really do need to be thankful for what we've got. Most of the country is in much worse shape than we are and it's showing in elevated grain and feed prices.

Farmers have no shortage of cliches from which to choose advice on how to run their operations from the pooled wisdom of generations past. Much of the time the message contains at least a grain of truth and once in a great while the message is a hundred percent right. Such is the case with the old saying, "Good land is worth what it costs". In this part of the world the first requirement of good land is that it needs to be deep enough and have enough organic matter to be able to hold onto whatever water falls on it. You can spend your life savings on seed and fertilizer but if it doesn't rain enough to keep the soil moist it really isn't going to matter very much because nothing is going to grow. Water is by far the most important nutrient for both plants and animals. This dry summer the difference between poor land and good land was two months worth of grass growth and grazing. We fed hay for six weeks this summer while those with poor land fed hay for three months. If we had been called on to feed hay for three months we would have completely exhausted our supply. That is a big difference and one that we are incredibly thankful for.

How is the dry weather affecting you and your horses ? What are feed prices doing in your neck of the woods ?


Lily and Maisie

Rampal and Clayton

Sam and Africa


Did someone say it's time to eat?  Winston, Silver, Gus, George, Titan, Lotus, Romeo and Faune


Rocky and Toledo

Elfin and Grand

Homer and Moe

Trigger and Levendi


EvenSong said...

We've actually had a pretty good year: because of the late spring/summer, we were still baling our first cutting (Timothy) the first week of August! And there's still a bit of the second cutting waiting to be done.
Even the three fields that got rained on (twice!) went for an outrageous price, but I'm sure the went east to the drought areas-- they were no longer export quality, but didn't look all that bad--two fairly brief showers, no real soaking).
I'm just glad my hay is in the barn!

Anonymous said...

We have about the same moisture deficit that you do, and very little rain in the forecast for the next several weeks. Our hay supply is coming from out of state non-drought areas.

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

My arena condition is 8 - 10 inches of deep loose dry sand.

Despite the month of daily rain in August, the water table is still very low, probably because along with the rain we had consistently and abnormally high temperatures. Evaporation killed us.

The only good thing about tropical weather systems is the way they recharge the aquifers. We haven't had any storms so far. Be careful what you wish for...

NC in general has had a good hay season, but because of the pressure from drought areas west of us, hay prices never dropped like they usually do in the summer. $8 - $10 a bale since last fall. Dreading how they will climb this winter. I have hay stocked up to the rafters...

Feed has gone up 30% this calendar year so far - even if the feed you purchase does not contain corn. I guess the demand for beet pulp has risen as well... ($14 per 50lbin January, $20 per 50lb now)

That's the report from my neck of the woods. :D

Laura said...

We had a very dry summer, but since late Aug/early Sept. we have had more rain. Not sure of the actual amounts, but everything is green again. My pastures (only about 5 acres) have come back quite nicely and I've actually had to mow the small one with the lawn tractor because my horse was getting too much grass. Having only 1 horse is easier to manage though...

Not sure about the hay situation here yet. The 1st cut was normal, but most didn't get a second cut or it was very small if they did. Prices will probably be going up, but I haven't had to deal with that yet...

RuckusButt said...

My barn grows enough hay to feed it's boarders year-round without counting on a second cut, so we are doing well despite the drought. I think they did manage a second cut but I'm not 100% sure since I'm only there about once a week these days :(

The other effects on horses were that many hooves were/are rock hard. That sounds like a good thing but I think many horses' hooves were too hard, as in they lost some of the elasticity. We've had more lamenesses (some known, some "mystery"), bruises, etc this year than I can ever remember happening all at the same time, so I'm tempted to say it's related.

East Bound said...

My board went up $50 due to hay prices. Each load of hay is $800 MORE than last year from the same supplier. We've also have had to feed "lunch" to the horses as their pastures have just about turned into weeded dry lots.

I'm in southeast Michigan, btw.

IsobelleGoLightly said...'ve read our story about my lady's hay price per month going from $300 to $520. Ack. Argh. And with that her hay man doesn't know if he'll have enough to supply customers through January. It's scary when we don't have pasture and we rely on hay and grain. We've had good rains now in September, and my lady at least won't lose all the water in her cistern so we can get drinks and she can too. Scary times.

Vivian, Apollo's Mom said...

We've had a fairly wet summer but they don't do too much haying around here. Our price for T and A has gone up a couple of weeks ago to the outrageous sum of $13.29 per bale and the hay is not nice. I'm waiting for the local race track to open soon as they have better hay at more reasonable prices. There are signs up at the feed store that feed is going up due to increased grain prices. I pay $20.99 for a bag of Purina Strategy Healthy Edge which I know can be had for cheaper elsewhere. It's tough if you board. I buy my feed and extra hay as the boarding facility doesn't supply the low starch feed I like and enough hay for my guy.

smazourek said...

We got hit here in Central NY, we were about 10 inches below normal by August. My supplier is super concerned that they won't get in a second cut this year. Last year they were able to bale in November (last year was bad from too much rain), so we're seriously hoping the weather will hold out and they can do that again. Otherwise we'll be scrambling to have enough for the winter.

Anonymous said...

South Dakota has been insane dry this year, after record breaking flooding last yr. Thankfully my horses are at a friends house now, and his family has hay land, so im gefting my hay from him this year, paying him market price with has me paying 120 a ton. Almost double what i paid a yr and a half ago. I have decided if we dont get mositure this fall and winter, come spring i will be horseless. I have plenty for the winter but if the moisture doesnt come i dont think there will be much to the hay crop next yr.