We went to Iowa recently to work on our farm where it has been very hot and dry. The last couple of weeks the temperatures have been at or near triple digits and there hadn’t been any rain for over a month. We noticed driving to the farm that things looked pretty dry and brown from lack of rain. These last two years It seems like Iowa has been getting most of their rain in the spring and then it has drought the rest of the summer, instead of it being spread out through most of the year. I hope it is not a pattern that will persist.
Our First Hay Crop
When we first pulled up to the farm it was nice to see big round bales of hay on our property. It just reminds me that this is really going to be a farm even though it’s not much of a farm compared to Iowa standards. This was our very first grass hay crop on the farm. My friend Tom who raises sheep asked if he could hay our pasture up by the building and we told him yes because we like Tom and it would save us time mowing the upper pasture where the building site is.
It seems like when ever we go to the farm it rains and this time was no exception. The first night we were there it rained 1/2 inch. Maybe we should go to the farm more often, then the farmers wouldn’t have all this drought to deal with.
One casualty of the drought, we lost two cherry trees that we planted a year ago this past spring.
Tree Tube Update
We went to the farm to check on and mow around our trees that we planted in 2010. The contract we have with the Farm Service Agency says we are not to mow around the trees from May 15th to Aug. 15th, so for three months we have to let the weeds grow and boy do they grow. This past spring was a very wet at the farm and most of Iowa. The area where the trees are planted flooded 3 times. This gave the weeds plenty of moisture and they really grew tall this year. In fact you can see from the pictures below how high the weeds grew.
The weeds had grown so tall it was hard to see how our rows of trees ran. We tried to mow, but after running over several tree tubes I thought it best we wait until spring. The trees we could see all seemed to be doing fine, even the ones that had lost the tree tube that I had marked when we were there in May with a 1/2 inch PVC pipe.
We are still having problems with raccoons tearing up our tree tubes to get at wasp nest that are inside the tube. Most of the trees are still alive but we have to put a wire gage around the tree to help protect it from deer. The pictures below show some of the damage they have done to the tree tubes.
I thought with the weeds being high that the raccoons would have a hard time finding the tubes, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I also have trees that are not in tree tubes and I have marked them with a 4ft tall piece of 1/2 pvc pipe. They are also doing fine but are not as big as the ones in the tree tubes. When we go back to the farm in October we will try to find all of them and put a wire cage over them to protect them this winter from the deer.
Getting a New Mower
The tall weeds were just too much for our old fail mower. This mower is from the 1960’s and it broke down when we were there, so we are in the process of buying a new rotary mower. We are ordering a Land Pride RCF 2060 weed and brush mower. I still plan on buying the parts to fix the old mower so we will use it to cut our pasture.
Gander Hill Pond going To Be Dug Deeper
Our wet lands pond for which our farm is named after is almost dried up again this year. The FSA contract that we have on it expires at the end of this month so we want to explore the idea of digging it out to at least 8 feet so we can stock it with fish. When we go back in October hopefully we can get the small damn dug out so the pond won’t fill up again this spring and then we can have it dug out during next summers drought when it is dried out good.
That’s it for this farm report, hopefully my next post will be on how to do your own pole barn house plans. Until then enjoy more pictures of our last visit below.