Days of DRY (Part 3)

Putting up hay.

Its that time of year bales start to appear in fields across the country and I have been thinking so much about the land. Farmers and ranchers have been cutting and saving grass to feed their livestock for centuries. It’s the time of year when you think about the growing season and what is has been like during the year so far. It was hard to think about any of it in a positive way. It has been so dry. So miserably hot. Everything I planted near the house died. The fruit trees my dad and I planted and babied and watered were dead. We had grass in our field, but it sure could have been more robust, taller, and greener.

Finally the day came to cut our field. I welcomed John to Atira Moon gently. He must have been having a hard time on his hay farms this year. I knew he had purchased new equipment and was hoping on a return on his investment. Or just enough to make the payments on the new balers, and maybe cover the diesel to run them.

Can you hear me sighing?

Our field didn’t look bad, but it looked short and parched, much different than last year.

“Well,” I asked John, “What do you think we can get?”

John looked grim. He said, “Well, I have another farm 8 miles east of here. Last year we got 220 round bales out of that field. This year we got 56.”

“Dang John, I’m sorry.”

“Yeah”, John looked at me wistfully and said, “And some of that’s already been stolen.”

“Oh no.”

“‘Fraid so.”

People must be desperate. There isn’t a dole for animals. I expect dogs, cats and horses are going to be turned out in droves this summer and fall. Maybe other critters. I remember once seeing a “stray” emu running down the side of the road during the last drought in Texas. We have it bad, but Texas has it bad again, and its been bad there, a lot longer.

Our farm is located on the eastern edge of that dark brown patch in South Central Kansas. Poor Oklahoma is squeezed dry in the middle and Texas, truly my favorite state of all, is practically blacked out by this drought.

John got to work and cut our hay field and horse pasture. Not the newly planted native grass of course, as that will need a couple of seasons to mature enough to even think about baling. We were cutting the established hay field and a portion of former horse pasture. The native grass hayfield was pretty healthy, thankfully it had been left pretty much alone by the former owners. It’s the nicest part of this property.

The horse pasture to the east, however was a different story. It was pretty sad sight this time last year. Over grazed and severely neglected by the former owners, it was filled with so many weeds last year we didn’t even bother to try baling it. John did cut it and we left it alone and Mother Earth began her repair in earnest. Some spots looked nice enough in that field that I thought John might try to bale it too (maybe.) I waited to see what might happen.

Sometimes you just don’t know what you will have rolled up in the end.

(Stay tuned for the 4th and final part of Days of DRY , tomorrow.)

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