Sunday, July 5, 2009

Funny weather continues

Today is supposed to be the first full clear sunny day of the last five or possibly six weeks. The weather this summer is beginning to be a problem.

Way too wet.

We can't finish our firewood chore because our woods are too wet to drive a tractor. The mid-Maine hay crop on which we depend absolutely for winter fodder isn't in yet except for a tiny handful of farmers who wisely took advantage of a two-day dry window in mid-May. Our gardens are doing OK compared to some of our friends, but the beans, tomatoes and especially the peppers are being held back by the cold. Our compost heap, which we keep in the pig's outdoor area so they can help process it and add nutrients, was stinky until I risked a stuck tractor yesterday and turned some new hay into it.

All in all, nature is being her usual uncooperative, willful self here in Maine.

Now today has dawned and the overnight low was below 50 degrees F, which seems like fall to me. I was actually cold outside this morning while doing my chores at 6am. Very surprising.

I'm starting to think I may have to buy some firewood. Hay is the big problem, though.
What to do if the weather keeps this way? We might buy round bales from some other state or from the northern part of Maine where they've been having different weather, but our operation is set up for square bales, not round. We would need to rig a hoist to get them in the barn.

I did make provision for both a hoist and a round-bale sized door when I built the barn, but never really expected to use it.

We can probably find local balage (hay silage in round, plastic wrapped bales), which local farmers are already switching to in desperation. I expect that the minority of grass farmers around here that have balage equipment are working overtime. Luckily, balage can be stored outdoors.

I guess we have a few more weeks yet before we have to make this decision. And what we do will depend mostly on what kind of cured fodder we can find, and at what price.

If we get lucky we'll have a dry early fall and make lots of too-thick, late, first cut hay. It will be poor, stalky stuff but they'll eat it, and what they don't eat will make winter bedding, and we'll feed more oats to make up for the poor hay.

I imagine I'm not the only agriculturalist around here hoping that this comes true.

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