Other than the four days at Christmas, there has not been any winter weather to speak of this year. While those four bitterly cold days did kill some of the young plants in my landscaping, I’m afraid it was not enough to kill off some of the bugs hibernating for the season. I have even noticed a significant number of flys on the cattle already! There is no doubt that our climate now acts in a series of extremes, which can be very challenging to manage on the farm.
One concern I have right now is the lack of rainfall that we have received this spring. It has been very dry the second half of the winter. Our cattle have not had to fight mud at all, and we have not had to bed the calving barn a single time. I will have to say it has been nice calving without the muddy conditions.
But I am worried about moisture starting into the growing season this dry. I compared the rainfall data from our Mesonet weather station for this year and the 2022 season. There was not as big of difference as I had thought there might be. From January 1, 2022 to April 12th 2022 we had received 15.1 inches of rain. This year from January 1st, 2023 to April 12th, 2023 we received 13.3 inches of rain. A mere two inches less this year. But one difference I will note is that for 2023 there were more large rain events (single days with 1.5+ inches) where 2022 had more total days with rainfalls of smaller amounts. Again, more extreme patterns in our weather.
The biggest difference this spring has been the wind. It seems as though we have moved to the great plains where the relentless wind is constantly blowing dust into your eyes causing you to seek shelter behind the nearest wind break that will offer some relief.
Again, lets compare the Mesonet data. In 2022 from January 1st to April 12th we had three measured wind gusts that reached at least 40 mph with the highest of those gusts being 50 mph. In 2023 during the same time we have had eleven gusts that were recorded at 40+ mph and the highest gust was 68.5 mph. All this wind has wreaked havoc on our old buildings at the farm. Nearly every barn has some level of damage, ranging from some loose metal flopping around, to one barn that had the entire corner blown off! There are also countless trees down on fences and in the edges of hay fields that have to be cleaned up. Now we are working to get quotes gathered so that the insurance can help make the needed repairs.
These extremes certainly make it harder to manage things on the farm, and I’m sure we will see more of it moving forward. I mean, we’re liable to have a hard freeze in late April and then rain the entire hay season…