It’s Been a (FILL IN THE BLANK) Spring

Posted on Friday, July 5, 2013 by Scott

     We’re here! It’s officially summer! We made it through “spring”.

What does spring mean to you? April showers bring May flowers? Or maybe: cool weather, cooler nights? But not too cool, just cool enough to make it bearable to sling seed bags around; toss straw down from the mow to the cows; or take advantage of the fresh air with the use of a cab-less tractor. That’s typically what I expect. However spring, as of late, varies greatly from everyone’s “average” or “typical” years, and it doesn’t stop there. It is not uncommon for neighboring counties to experience opposite types of weather daily. This is why I empower you to fill in the title of this post based on what you’ve experienced!

I’ll share with you what I’ve seen. Two springs ago, we experienced all the things I mentioned spring entails, with the addition of a tonne of rain. Last spring included a March and April that was significantly hotter and drier than average in most of Southwestern Ontario. With these polar opposite springs, we were due for a mellow, average, (dare I say perfect?) spring…and what did we get? Both prior springs in one!

Going from April ice storms which knocked out power and kept farmers off the land all the way to frost(s) in late May…I was very surprised to be wearing my snowboard toque at work one day, to transitioning to my Bravo ball cap, shorts, t-shirt, and sunglasses the next. Luckily a lot of corn didn’t show lasting damage because it was very young (before 6 leaves) and ended up growing out of the damage. Below is a picture of our corn that has nicely surpassed the regular indicator of a decent corn crop for us: “Knee-high by the first of July”. Photo courtesy of my sisters and their knack for photographing the crops in creative ways!

     Were other crops effected by a wonky spring? From what I’ve seen at our farm, and in my travels, the answer is area dependent. Some wheat or corn may have been nearly drowned out but the hot days following were enough to help some fields out and bring some of the plants back a bit.

It also made it difficult for farmers to time cutting and bailing their hay depending on when they wanted to harvest (from my understanding: dairy farmers typically harvest quite a bit earlier). A neighbour had a struggle to get his hay bailed after we had cut for him, because just when he’d almost have it dried enough to bail…the rains set in. Repeatedly flipping it to dry it and keep it free of disease, he ran into rain after rain after rain until we finally bailed it at much lower quality than he strives for. This is because the longer it lays cut out in the field, the more nutrients it can lose. This is the farming: you win some, you lose some. However, ours turned out quite alright.

Using the hay field that we have for the past number of years as hay again, I was slightly worried about it when the chance of a good spring was still present. Why you may ask? Well, typically this field would have been turned over to a new crop in the past couple years, but we just haven’t found time. So, combined with the nature of this spring…my concerns were, lets say…warranted. However, we hit the weather just right when we cut, enabling us to bail it on the Friday, load all 165 bails to one side of the field for a farmer to pick up in the next couple of days before the forecasted rain came on Monday-Tuesday. All in all the yield of the hay turned out well, and plans to put hay in the field against the house next year is in motion. This is slightly exciting because the last time it was in this field, as my dad would say, I was “knee-high to a grasshopper”, and consequently cannot recall!
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First bail onto the wagon at the neighbors…                                                                                                               Full load…plus a bonus

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Well-deserved photo op? I’d like to think so                                                                                                                Surprisingly good turn-out on our “aged” hay field!