Hurry up and wait. It’s a phrase that you hear all the time, but nothing defines it quite like farming this time of year. I have inherited my father’s habit of watching no less than three different weather forecasts each day every day from the first of May until hay season is done. Experience has taught us that you can’t trust just one forecast, you are much better off to look at several sources and make an educated guess from the differences among them.
Why all the rush to mow hay? With everything there is a balance. If you wait longer, you will harvest higher quantities of hay but quality can suffer tremendously. Livestock animals can actually become nutrient starved on what looks like perfectly good hay because of late harvests. Wise farmers send off samples to be tested to measure hay quality and determine how much feed supplements are needed to keep herds healthy. Planting works similarly, there is an ideal time to plant each crop and planting after that date will have a negative effect on yield. A lot of thought and study goes into determining when to work and farmers will often put in some gruelingly long days to get as much done as possible during ideal conditions.
So, as you see farmers moving equipment from field to field at what may seem to be odd hours, there is a lot riding getting work done at the right time. Please be patient with us as you get behind our equipment. Like every other farmer, I would prefer to not be on the road. It is something that we cannot avoid, and we all have been in some truly terrifying situations as a result of impatient drivers. We will most likely only be on the road for a few minutes between fields, and we appreciate your patience with us. If you would like to learn more about farming, or have any questions or concerns, please contact the NC Cooperative Extension office in Stokes at 336-593-8179.