From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Hay Shortage in Christian County, KY

Cornstalks baled for winter feed



Rain in  Hopkinsville, KYRain was a welcome sight!

One day last week, rain came down in torrents in Hopkinsville. Low spots in the streets were flash-flooded, and the electricity all over town went out for a while because of a TVA substation problem. Hopkinsville and Crofton got about two inches of rain from this little cloudburst.

When I went home, it was disappointing to learn we'd only received a sprinkle. To the west, east, and south of Hopkinsville, much less rain fell, and in many cases, there was no rain at all.

Though it's too late for most of the crops, rain would still help the grass in the pastures and relieve the fire danger of crisp-dried fields.

Coming home from town the other day, I passed by a parched and barren pasture with a herd of cows in it. A little creek (dried up, no doubt) runs through the pasture. I saw a cow balancing on the very edge of the gully and stretching as far as she could, so she could eat leaves off a little tree that grows in the stream bed. It was a pitiful sight -- she wouldn't be doing that if she had anything else to eat.

Farmers are baling their cornstalks and soybeans for winter feed. We really only got one half-decent cutting of hay this year. Usually, we would get three cuttings. The first grass was set back by the late freeze, and then the weather turned so dry. Prices for a big round bale of hay are around $70, compared to $20 a year ago. [UPDATE: An ad in the Kentucky New Era on September 5, 2007, offered "horse-quality" hay in big square bales, 3x3x8 feet, for $85 each.]

On the radio a few days ago, they announced that the Montgomery County, TN, extension service had located 5000 bales of bermudagrass hay in Oklahoma. (Montgomery County is just over the state line from us.) Planter's Bank will front the money for shipment, and farmers can purchase the hay when it arrives.

The lack of pasture grass and the shortage of hay has forced many farmers to sell calves early and to reduce or sell out their cattle herds. It's a very bad year for agriculture in this area. Even though we're not totally agriculture-dependent in Christian County, we'll feel the effects of the drought on our local economy.

Bales of cornstalks in a drought-stricken cornfieldA trailer of baled cornstalks


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2 comments:

John Ruberry said...

Mrs. Marathon Pundit grew up on a farm in eastern Europe. Cows, she told me, don't like damp hay. They'd look at her and mournfully moo when offered such grass.

Genevieve said...

The cows around here haven't had to worry about damp hay for quite a while. We did get some light rain over the weekend, though. Every little bit helps.

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