A month of meetings
Hello from Sunrise Acres and welcome to 2009. Thanksgiving and Christmas are history and Spring is just around the corner. For those of you in agriculture or a related industry, you are well aware that the meeting season is under way. It's like going back to school to get a refresher course on current technology and market trends.
At the farm the inversion has settled in and the January gloom is in full bloom. A large band of sheep made short work of the leftover hay and pasture growth. Hopefully a few gophers had their tunnels collapse on their heads from the impact of hundreds of hooves. With the sheep grazing the old growth to the ground, the number of mice tunneling in the field should be greatly reduced. Sometime in February, fertilizer will be applied to help bring the alfalfa stand back to life. We have been tempted to tear out the hay just to get even with the gophers, but I suspect we will give it at least one more year as long as the price remains strong. After the frost has left the ground, Carol will use our 4030 John Deere to re-corrugate the field and the crop will be on its way.
The pasture ground has also been grazed by the sheep and now looks evenly trimmed. When the ground re-warms it will be time once again to start the gopher eradication. Even though the pasture is frozen and no new mounds may show, it doesn't mean the gophers haven't been busy. They are preparing for the birth of a new generation of pests while we are staying warm in our houses. If fertilizer prices continue to fall, we will probably have some applied this spring to increase the growth of the grass and alfalfa mix. We have toyed with the idea of putting our own cattle on the pasture this year as our renter has moved to the Vale area to start a new farm. I miss having cattle but do not miss having all the extras that go with them such as midnight fence breakage and dying just for the heck of it. It may be that the pastures will be cut for hay and no cattle introduced at all. This gives the gophers the green light to dig at will with no pressure from above.
With duck season over, the corn fields will soon be full of ducks and geese. It seems to be the rule that ducks will only land 10 minutes after shooting hours until the week after season ends. As the weather deteriorates in December I always hold out hope that ducks and geese will land in our fields during the day. We had several groups of geese starting to show up sooner and sooner in the day, then the snow stopped and the inversion set in. Oh well, maybe next year. In another month or so Carol will disk and plow the old corn stubble under to make way for another crop year. We are still weighing our options and will probably go to corn one more year or perhaps a crop of spring wheat. The markets have been strengthening then retreating so it is hard to get a handle on what to plant.
For those of you who depend on farming for your income we appreciate how difficult it is to make cropping decisions when the markets have fluctuated so much this past year. Corn prices have seen record highs and below production cost levels reached within a relatively short period of time. One of the Treasure Valley's biggest assets is that we produce such a wide variety of crops. While some commodities may not pencil out as profitable, others such as peppermint and beans offer growers a fair return. With fuel and fertilizer coming off their record highs, other crops may return to profitability also.