Saturday, September 7, 2013

Friday Flora Late Summer edition

It's September, the end of a long summer.  Summer is the dry season here, and it started early this year.  It wasn't particularly hot, but it was particularly dry--the rain stopped early, and there wasn't much of the usual random sprinkles in the summer months.

I can't remember who said it, or whether they were describing the 200 meter or the 400 meter sprint, but they might as well have been describing grazing in the local climate:  "The first half you sprint as hard as you can, and the second half you hang on and hope you don't die."  We came out of the blocks early in the year with lush green fields from a nice soggy winter.  None of the animals really wanted any hay or anything, just lovely pasture.  They didn't even really drink much, getting most of their water from the grass and dew.  The ewes and does were gestating, but not nursing.  Everybody was getting fat and happy.

Around about July, this year--earlier than is normal--things started to dry out.  The hay began to look more appetizing.  The moms were busy nursing, trying to get calories and nutrients for themselves and two lambs.  And now, here we are in September.  The lambs are weaned, but still growing and very hungry.  The moms, who by the end of July were so depleted that they resembled woolly skeletons, are being stuffed with as much hay and grain as they can eat. Thankfully, they are starting to put on some weight, but they are still too skinny to breed.  The fields are dry, the grass mostly dead and mostly void of nutrition.  I've been hard pressed for time, so I haven't been able to move the animals to fresh pasture recently, though it wouldn't make too much difference.  We are going through hay at an alarming rate.

Everybody else has the same weather.  The hay growers also didn't get a lot of rain, so hay's expensive.  All the other folks with sheep and goats and cows didn't get much rain, so they need more hay than usual.  The co-op has put a limit of six bales per day per customer on hay purchases. Those six bales will run over a hundred dollars, and feed my beasties for about a week--along with grain mix, corn, fermented alfalfa, and alfalfa pellets.  Everybody's in that last leg of the sprint, looking for the finish line when the ground will start to feed the animals again.

So, it's a nice start to the year--l'Shana Tova, y'all--that we had a real rainstorm move through yesterday.  Along with a couple of other squalls, we've gotten maybe as much as a half inch of precipitation in the last few weeks.  It's not the end of summer, but it's been enough to wake up some of the seeds and perk up the mosses, and just make me feel a little bit better.  Much as I'm panicking about the stuff that's got to be done before the wet season, I'm glad that we can glimpse the end of the dry. 

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