In a previous post I wrote a little about the record-setting drought that we have been experiencing in New England. We are hardly alone as much of the rest of the country has been plagued by similar, if not worse, weather.
A recent article in the New York Times discusses potential ramifications of the drought on food prices. Fortunately we are somewhat insulated from many of the pressures caused by the lack of rain—maintaining a grass-based system limits our exposure to corn, and thus skyrocketing prices will have less of an impact.
Our beef animals get no grain whatsoever, and we feed as little as we can to the dairy cows. As costs go, corn/grain expenses make up only a small portion of our operating budget.
Despite relative freedom from corn the drought has still had a major impact. Our pastures and hay fields stopped growing. We eventually moved the dairy herd across Oblong Road to graze on one of the hay fields. This bought us a bit over a week, but once the distance approached a mile the girls rebelled, showing little inclination to make a trek that included a road crossing, a climb up a steep embankment, and the nearby temptation of 10 acres of alfalfa that was strictly off-limits.
One last ditch effort to graze them on a stockpiled piece failed and yesterday we resorted to feeding stored hay exclusively. This means that we are drawing down feed that was earmarked for winter, and with the hay fields showing little sign of coming back for a third-cut we are already short a significant amount.
The hope is that with the recent rain, and more on the way the pastures will bounce back, grazing can start up again, and we will get at least a few bales out of third cut. At this point, however, even a best case scenario has us looking to buy hay for the winter.
Things could certainly be a lot worse and many farms around the country are in much more dire circumstances.
The best news is that the sun isn’t out, it is gray and damp, and more rain is on the way!