There were about 24 giddy hours where we felt like we had finally done something right on the organic portion of our farm (about 40 of the 320 acres). We've had a few trials and errors compounded by both floods and droughts. Seems like if we are committed to any particular thing, it is a commitment to experimenting. Problem is we got skunked a few times with our experiments. The tillage radish was good, but no income. We gave organic corn a shot, but ended up plowing it under. So this year, lo and behold, we got our first crop off the 40 acres.
It's an absolutely gorgeous crop of lush, green, alfalfa. One heck-uv-a yield. I kinda get that whole "waiting to exhale" idea. We've been holding our breathe on so many of our farm ventures and finally one of them turned out well. Sigh.......
The other precious thing about this hay crop is that part of it was harvested with a lot of family and neighbor hands at work. The kids and I drove in from an evening of roller skating to find a couple haying efforts underway-- though it was growing dark. The kids ran down and pitched in with Mike, Russ, Theresa, and kids. Pumping out small square bales and putting them on a hayrack. Just a couple hundred that way, but still-- a perfectly wholesome farm and family night.
Last night, we jumped in the car and went to the street dance in Clinton, MN. When asked how the farming was going, we beamed. "Great!" "Excellent!" "The alfalfa crop was great and it's baled!"
We had a solid 24 hours of farming we could brag about.
And then the phone rang over breakfast-- cattle out of their paddock on the US Fish and Wildlife land. Mike has spent the last few weeks toiling to fix 50 year old fences so that we could graze our cattle on the adjoining federal land (we've worked out a lease with the US Govt).
As it turns out, our cows can swim. Even the little babies it appears. They swam around the fences that went up to the edge of the slough. So we geared up with waders, fence post, wire and headed out to separate our cattle from another herd they had decided to 'mingle' with and set up fence into the slough.
It was 94 degrees, hot and buggy. But we got the job done- new fence up, cattle herded back. That's a good feeling.
All in all, it is a joy to see this farm in grass. The cattle barely visible in a sea of shoulder high, tall grass prairie grass. And it looks like we now have enough hay to get this herd and a few more through the winter. Plus, we're going to butcher our first two steers- Trouble and Bill (yes, they have names). So stay tuned to order some grassfed beef from us. We're going to try it before we start to sell any.
I'll be back in the coming days with more cattle tales. In the meantime there are community celebrations to attend and fireworks tonight in Clinton, Minnesota. I am grateful for these days and this place. And I'll savor those hours when the farming is good, the grass is green, and we are living in the lushness and abundance of life on the tallgrass prairie.