Wednesday, June 20, 2012

339 Trimming Trees now and then in a drought.

I read recently where farmers who are experiencing a drought become rather anti social. I think I understand that in some ways as it is rather unexciting to see your good efforts of raising a good crop kind of go up in smoke. But this is not my first of these events, it happened for me first in 1977 and it was my worst one I think...The first and the worst, as it did not rain from May 2nd on my farm and the surrounding areas until Aug 9th and we got 3 inches of rain...way to late for the corn crop but the soybeans which had yet to finish blooming did well on the 9 inches of rain we got on the 9th 10th and 11th of August...The beans made 30 and the corn made 20...Yes the beans which usually yeild about a third of what corn does actually out yielded my corn crop.. It happened again 1983 and it was very hot and dry and the effects were about the same, but a little better yeilds as I recall..
Then again in 1988 it was an early drought and the corn stalks leaves were very close together. Stacked up on top of each other very close and the entire plant was not 4 feet tasseled out and the silks came out but it was so dry we feared it was over. But it rained pretty good about 10 days later. The old timers said it was too late to help the corn but low and behold it put on an ear about a foot or two off the ground and when they hung down they almost touched the ground. But that crazy corn crop actually made 100 bushels to the acre..about 100% more that most of us thought was possible. No bad droughts since then until 2012 and here we are. It is very dry and very hot so I have been busying myself cutting limbs off of trees around my home and farm pond.

And as I was doing that last evening I remember the two terrible droughts that my father had in his farming career in 1934 and 1936. And I recalled his telling me that he cut a lot of limbs off of trees those two summers also. But I need to share we done it for two way different reasons. You see I am doing it to improve my property and relieve stress I guess. And mostly to improve the property as I have crop insurance in force that will assure me of about a half of my potential income for a fee that I have been paying for that service since 1973. All three of my droughts were covered by this insurance or I would not have been able to continue farming. But for Dad there was no such thing and he had lots of cattle to feed and there was no feed to feed to them. So each day he would take a ladder and handsaw and go to the woods where he had his cattle. He would climb into the large trees and cut off limbs that had lots of green leaves on them. They would crash to the ground and he said as soon as he would cut the first one off he would hear the cattle come running to the site. He told me they would eat every leaf off of these limbs just to stay alive. He would cut several limbs each day as long as the droughts lasted. It worked he kept his cattle alive. That fall and winter he went back and cut the limbs up to firewood to heat the house with. So here we are 80 years later both having spent the summer of droughts cutting limbs but for two way different reasons.

Having not been born until 1938 I am glad that the cattle did not knock my dad's ladder down while he was up those trees. Had they I may have never been born who knows...and you would not be reading this story...