So far, 2013 is the exact opposite of 2012. There were 80F days in March 2012. Fruit trees budded early, grass grew quickly, and gardens were planted way ahead of the normal time. I had cows out on grass April 1, where normally they would have gone out May 1. The early spring was followed with record heat and a lack of rain which contributed to a very dry and hot summer – effecting most farmers in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.
This year is quite the opposite. We received more snow in March here in Kalona, Iowa than the rest of the winter combined. April has shown itself to be very wet and cold. Grass is growing very very slowly, and I believe that cows will be out on grass a week to two weeks later than normal (May 1). However, soil moisture levels are recovering so that’s good.
That said, the swings in weather to a farmer mean several things:
- No year is exactly the same. The farmer must act and react to what nature gives.
- For true farm sustainability and longevity, the farmer must build flexibility into the system. Always keep stored feed on hand, and don’t overgraze pastures in the fall (as tempting as that might be).
- No to low-cost systems require a lot of thought but are well-worth the effort. Dependence on purchased feed can lead to catastrophic results if there is an extended period of drought or moisture.
I see farms all over the Midwest and West in the US. The farms that truly can sustain the test of time are able to swing and sway with extremes in weather. To be able to do this requires a dedication on the part of the farmer to a low-cost system.