A Cowboy’s Faith: Grass turned into hay – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith: Grass turned into hay

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“At least livestock will have some feed next winter.”

Certainly lots of swathers and hay balers were moving at fast pace in recent days.

Pleased having what appeared to be a bumper crop, it was urgent getting dried brome grass wrapped before rains came.

Not a top student in crops and soils classes, lessons are learned best when it dips into the pocketbook. Tame grass production is most dependent on two things: fertilizer and weather.

Considerable less expense when brome isn’t fertilized, but experience has proven there’s very low yield without added nitrogen.

Yet even when all soil testing and fertilizer recommendations are followed, Mother Nature still has overriding power.

Agronomists may have a different philosophy, but seemingly weather can also be a double edged sword. Ample rainfall at the precise time needed is quite important coupled with spring temperatures not too hot too soon. Earthlings have absolutely no control over those influential factors, despite numerous ill-fated scientific attempts through the ages.

Oh there are other problems which can often reduce brome grass yields with something new showing up quite regularly. Diseases have tried to create havoc, and other vegetation like bluegrass and wild bluestem attempt overpowering.

High yields require heavy foliage, not just long stems with seed heads on them. However, tall thick grass can be readily flattened by wind and rain, creating additional hard work for harvesters.

When brome grass is crushed down and doesn’t have time to straighten back up, a windrower will frequently become clogged. With temperatures higher than 100 degrees and record humidity, that’s a major job to clear out. Sometimes loud, very aggravated remarks could be made by the ranch worker. With solid wet soaked shirt and jeans, sweat drops rolled from under the cap and down the face.

Haying process has changed dramatically during the past 50 years, let alone in the previous century. Old timers were still storing hay in big outside stacks after most farmers had small round and square balers.

Tractors with sickle mowers cut the grass, which dried then was raked into windrows and baled. After one-operation windrowers and big round balers came about, haying became a much easier task yet with plenty of dilemmas.

Reminded of Proverbs 10:5: “Making hay when the sun shines is smart, but going fishing during harvest is foolish.”

030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.

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