And the Winner is...
Two weeks ago we posted about some of the goings on at the farm, and asked for help in naming our latest baby goat. We heard from many of you, and every name entered was solid. But, alas, there can only be one name and one winner.
In the running was JLond-- offspring of JLo (the Goat) combined with "Lond," a word meaning "the earth" or "agricultural land." A great name indeed, but it didn't quite roll off the tongue as gracefully as we liked. There was Shapiro...which, well, didn't quite work. Gigi and Pepe were fun, (I especially loved the reference to Pepe Le Pew), and Cookies and Cream (CC for short) almost took the cake. In the end, it was Billy the Kid that stuck - a name that seemed to capture the young kid's demeanor with a slice of wit to boot.
Gabe Hermon of Lovilia, Iowa is then the winner of the audio book - congrats Gabe!
John and I too are winning in the hay game at the moment - with a current total of 171 bales baled and counting. John estimates we are only half way through this first cutting too. We usually take at least two cuttings, the second time around yielding about half as many bales.
Hay works like this: You wait until about mid-June when the grasses are near chest high and then start worrying about the weather every day. Is it going to rain this week? Will it be dry enough to bale?
Once your stress levels have risen substantially, you hopefully find a several day window of dry weather. You then cut the hay. A day or so later (if it is dry enough) you come back and rake it, turning two rows together to dry out the underside of the hay. Then quickly - preferably one dry day where there is no rain to ruin your crop--you bale it into 1600 lb large round bales. If you bale while the hay is too wet it is actually is a bigger problem than one would think - they don't just rot, they can catch on fire.
We don't own a baler so we hire out the baling and the moving of the bales for $20 a bale. John cuts the hay and I try to get most of the raking done. It is a loud job riding an old tractor for hours (a 1972 Oliver 1755 tractor) round and round a field. But I also enjoy it - it is like a big game of Tetris trying to figure out how to most efficiently rake the rows. It also leaves a lot of time for listening to books. Currently I am listening to Finding The Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard, a very interesting piece of non-fiction that weaves together fascinating info about trees with the author's life.
In the end, if say we sell 200 bales at an average of $70 a piece - that is a profit of $10,000, even after we have paid out the $20 a bale (but not counting our fuel costs, which are larger this year).
And $10k is nothing to sneeze at in farming. But to put that into perspective with three cuttings we can make a whopping $150 per acre once. That same space can also yield (in our geographical area) about 150 bushels of corn. At the very high price corn is getting today--more than $7.75 a bushel--a single acre grosses almost $1200. But it also costs an estimated $920.93 dollars PER ACRE to grow!!! And if the price is lower, say an average price of $5 a bushel...farmers will loose almost $200 an acre.
That is one of the big reasons we are not in the row crop game...and don't want to be. Perhaps you can understand why.
We hope your summer is rolling along smoothly. And don't forget to buy at least some of your food from someone who takes care to raise it well.