Harvest was a struggle. The rainy weather started in the spring before planting. This fall, during silage harvest, we fought the same elements to get the crops out of the fields. The rain forced us to shorten our growing season. That means, we lose yield, which means less feed for our animals. We have one window each year to provide enough feed for our cows for a full year. We have had three wet years in a row, so feed inventories are low.
We started harvest on October 7th. Usually, we start on September 12th. Most of our days start at 7 a.m. with pre-maintenance on the chopper which includes fueling up, greasing the chopper, filling the tires, and sharpening knives on the front that chop the corn. It’s important to do an equipment check so all our tools for that day are at 100% working capacity. We start chopping at 8 a.m. Normally, we run to 10:00 p.m. at night.
In previous years, we chop directly into a semi-trailer. This year, we had to use a tractor and dump cart, and dump the silage into the semi-trailer on the road because the ground was too wet to bring it in the fields. That required three additional employees and three more pieces of machinery, which meant higher fuel costs, wages and wear and tear on machinery.
Farms operate in a rhythm. Starting late affects everything on the farm. It especially affects manure hauling. We need that fertilizer to keep the farm recycling running. We feed crops to our animals, who produce meat and milk, the cows produce manure and the cycle begins again.
We finished harvesting silage on October 24th. There is still plenty to do on the farm. We have to harvest our corn and soybeans.
I believe farming replenishes the earth, especially the soil. It all comes back to feed us.