We are closing in on the end of the irrigating season. Under normal conditions, this wouldn't happen until October. With 35-45 acres of hay that is fully ready for harvest, we have to watch the weather forecasts closely to time the harvest for the best weather possible. One rain storm of sufficient water quantity will completely bleach the hay, reducing quality and profit margin. With yields as low as they are, we will be fortunate to break even on the year.
The shorter irrigation season helped me make a decision on taking other jobs in addition to working the ranch. I am gearing up for teaching at HCCA this school year. Since it is shared schooling (NAUMS), I only have 3 days per week that I am away from the ranch. It is interesting, to me, how a four 10-hour days is a full work week for most jobs, but my father-in-law and I worry that 4 days out of the week may not be enough time to get everything done here at home. The biggest part involves the timing described above. Once you start haying, you can't just wait three days to start working again. Gearing up for a new teaching position takes quite a bit of preparation as well, so I am feeling the time crunch from both sides.
I have learned a lot about how temperamental grass can be. It has been surprising to me to see how the different grasses grow at varying rates. I've added sprinklers, shut off others, and had at least one good cold shower per day keeping sprinklers unplugged. The alfalfa will drown and die out if you over water it, and I learned that foxtail (I particularly bad weed for horses) loves to take over in areas that get to wet. The areas that get the most water seem to do the best, but I had some of the alfalfa on one field start to lose some color due to over watering. That same area had a visibly shorter height of grass due to under watering. When you set up a center-pivot system, the nozzles and water rates are sized by design to put out a fairly even distribution of water. With wind and soil types changing within the field, these sizing parameters vary enough that so do the water requirements to maintain an even crop. I am incredibly grateful to have the knowledge and expertise of a highly diligent and observant farmer with 50 years experience guiding me along.
Looks like a small shower is headed this way, all 5 center-pivots are running, and I need to get started on visuals for my classroom. Praise and greatest thanks to God All-Mighty for the wonderful creation in which we live. In Christ's loving name and until next time: may He keep you in His favor, that you may see daily His abundant love and unfailing grace.