Spring has sprung. The weather has changed and things have just gotten really really busy.
The rains were a blessing here in western Sedgwick County. Just when we thought it might be too late to save the wheat crop, Mother Nature changed her mind and blessed us with some much-needed rainfall. It didn't take long for the pastures to green up. Spring-planted crops are progressing nicely.
The only drawback is that the cooler weather slowed the corn growth. It needs heat units bad. I've also heard of some farmers having to replant corn planted just before the wet spell - it either didn't germinate or washed out with the heavy rains we received. But, all in all, things are looking up as far as our outlook on wheat harvest and the fall outlook. There is a lot that could happen until we get the crop in the bin, but I guarantee you raise a lot more with rain than without.
As I write this, the wheat crop tour just finished up and they are calling for a good crop for much of the state, but I always look at the results with a grain of salt. There is always a lot of time between the tour and the combines rolling. Hot and windy days at filling can mean a drastic drop in bushels. A hailstorm could result in bushels lost. But the potential is there for a good crop.
In early May, we turned our cow/calf pairs out to pastures. I always enjoyed seeing baby calves kicking their heels up in new surroundings and exploring new things - as well as how an electric fence feels when you touch it with your nose. The mama cows take it all in stride. I figure it's kind of like a teenager who just will not listen: They just have to figure it out for themselves no matter how many times you say no.
I was beginning to be concerned about the grass coming back before the rains, especially the pastures we burned, but they are nice and green now. We really got a good burn this year. There was plenty of fuel to carry a fire with the rains we had last summer. It got a lot of pesky cedars we have been trying to control in draws and creek bottoms that survived past years' burns.
I've gotten the combine out of the shed and serviced it. I really believe time spent before harvest checking belts and bearings and replacing things that could break during harvest is time well-spent. Besides, it keeps me out of the coffee-shop gossip. Here in Garden Plain, we have our own version. We call it "Death Row": retired farmers and people who meet every morning for coffee and doughnuts. They also solve all of the world's problems one topic at a time. It only takes them a couple of hours, too. If Congress would act like that, imagine what we could get done.
Now to the presidential election. What a mess. It's hard to imagine that in this great nation we have these two people to choose from. What have we sunk to? If you believe social media, the candidates are all lying, back-stabbing no-goods who can't even run their our lives, much less the country.
Give me a break! I hope someone will wake up and start talking about the issues and how to solve our country's problems. So if you have a chance to meet any candidate, question them on how they will work to better our country and not their own personal agenda. The political process is important.
No matter how bad you think it has become, remember this: Someone who knows very little about agriculture will be deciding how you are allowed to farm. That is pretty sobering, isn't it? That is why we need to keep the pressure on them and tell them this is how it is on your farm and ranch. Better yet, invite them out to see your operation. Be accurate: Tell them the truth even if it hurts sometimes.
If enough of you stay engaged and tell your story, we can make a difference - especially when there are so few farmers left. Politicians love to hear from farmers. It makes them feel good that their message is getting out. Tell them that this is what you need to get their vote.
Finally, as we get busy, stay safe. I have attended too many funerals because of careless actions.
Mick Rausch and his wife, Nancy, farm near Garden Plain in western Sedgwick County. Their operation includes raising corn, milo, soybeans, alfalfa and wheat, and Rausch has several native grass pastures he bales for hay.