Thursday, June 17, 2010
This year has been wonderfully and unusually wet. That means grass, and grass makes people in agriculture happy. Some people are getting a little tired of all the rain and it has certainly set spring work back-but nobody dares curse the moisture because for the last 10 years we've been in a very severe drought and we know the rain will stop. I personally love it!
It's also funny and irritating to hear people in Casper curse the rain, then curse the humidity that follows it. Now it's sunny and the wind is howling in typical Casper style, and they're cursing that too. There's just no pleasing some people. I have to resist the urge to walk up and shush them for daring to curse getting 3+ inches of rain over a 2 week period in June.
Here's how the grass situation has looked for the last 4 years where I'm from. It will help explain the whole, "rain is a good thing" mentality.
Taken June 8, 2007. This is a meadow and it's already dusty and the grass is turning. It's also pretty short. We are heading out to rebuild fence in this picture and the temp. was already in the high 90's in the first week of June.
Taken June 16, 2007. Note how short the grass is and that its already turning brown. This was a bad year for growing grass and this was as good as it was that year. It was hot and there wasn't any rain to speak of. Where I'm from we receive of 6-10 inches annual precipitation, so we are never anything more than semi-arid. But 2007 was an extreme case of heat and lack of moisture.
Taken June 1, 2008. Greener than 2007, but not very tall. It didn't get much taller than this all year either. These heifers had just arrived home from the feedlot, where they were grown over the winter, partially because the drought resulted in us having to reduce our carrying capacity (number of head we run).
Taken June 17, 2009. We grew some grass last year, but the grasshoppers ate most of it. You can see there are some short spots and the cheatgrass is already turning a purplish brown color. We had a cold, wet spring-but the combined July heat and ravenous grasshoppers took care of most of it.
Taken May 28, 2010. This calf in this photo is in almost the exact location of the tractor in the June 8, 2007 photo (It's just looking the opposite direction). While this was taken a couple weeks earlier, the grass is already significantly taller and I'm told it looks even better today.
This is in almost the exact location of the heifer in the June 1, 2008 photo.
There's grass everywhere, and while I haven't been home in a few weeks I'm told it's still green, tall and growing. There is also a record-breaking grasshopper hatch this year, but we and almost everyone else in the county is signed up to spray them and hopefully minimize their impact.
This is a good example of why agriculturalists spend so much time discussing, watching and worrying about the weather. It impacts us significantly every year. 2007 was hard, frustrating and depressing for many.
My uncle said it best when branding this year when he noted how fat and happy our cows were, and how most of them had never been fat before in their life. It's a good year to raise livestock in eastern Wyoming!