Red clover hay field. This field is an example of making the best of a bad situation.
The cowherd winters on cropland, walking into the woods for shelter, and water out of springs. We feed the cows by unrolling round bales of hay on the harvested corn fields. This is a way to spread the fertility from the cows’ manure, and the damage from the cows’ hooves if the ground is not frozen.
The hayfield above was exposed to the cows, and even though we never fed them hay on it, they chose to stand on it often. When the ground thawed, the cows did considerable damage to the alfalfa plants.
We monitored the field as everything started to green up in the spring. We could see most of the alfalfa had been killed and it would not be a productive field. We had three choices: 1. Do nothing and accept the reduced yield. 2. Till it and plant corn. 3. Plant another forage crop.
We didn’t need the corn acres, and it would mess up our rotation if we put it in corn this year. It wasn’t slated to be a corn field until 2011.
We decided to plant another forage crop. There are some grasses which people plant in this type of emergency: Italian Ryegrass, Teff grass. We wanted a legume, though, which would fix nitrogen for next year’s corn crop, which is what the alfalfa would have done.
We chose Red Clover. There are disadvantages to Red Clover. It is short-lived, and it doesn’t dry well for hay. The first reason didn’t matter in this case, and we decided to try to find dry times to make the Red Clover hay to take care of the second disadavantage.
The main advantage to Red Clover is it’s very easy to plant. We broadcasted the seed with a small spreader from the back of a tractor, and pulled a chain harrow to cover the seed with a little bit of dirt. We planted four pounds per acre.
It worked great! Look at how thick the reddish flowers are in the picture. We made the best of a bad situation.
And so, I can no longer put off addressing the title of this post.
I’m taking a break from blogging. I’ve posted consistently for nearly two years. I’ve met people, made friends, learned, shared, in short, it’s been a blast! Thank you for visiting, commenting, and sharing. Without you, a blog is a journal. With you, a blog is a conversation. Thank you for your conversation!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!