HAVE YOU BEEN IMPACTED BY THIS YEAR’S HAYING WOES IN THE STATE OF MAINE? Maine isn’t the only place which has been receiving excessive rains this Summer, but our soggy season may be able to illustrate the problem other farmers other places may be having.
The first three weeks of May started out dry. But the pattern shifted on May 21 and since then our Northern Maine farm has recorded over 21″ of rain. For perspective, 14″ of water is needed to grow Potatoes. Back in the once-in-a-generation drought year of 2020, we received a total 5.65″ rainfall from June 1 – Sept 30 (then, another 6.52″ of rain fell in October, after the Potato crop was put away in storage).
With all the rain in Maine this Summer, it’s been hard to make hay. Therefore, good dry hay is in short supply statewide. Most Maine dairy farmers have the equipment and capacity to make “Haylage” (pickled moist hay, usually made in “Big Round” bales wrapped in white plastic skins) so they have a portion of their cow’s Winter diets secured. But EVERY livestock farmer uses mostly – if not all – dry hay for dairy AND beef cows, horses, sheep and goats.
We got a rare and late window to mow our first-cut hay in early August. Then late the very next afternoon the cut grass had dried and was ready to bale into hay. Unfortunately, from the git go the baler took to acting up. After it had crudely baled a dozen 800# Big Round bales – about a third of the field – the baler gave up the ghost entirely.
Caleb and Justin then used the harpoon on our New Holland Skidsteer (see back end of trailer) to load the modest harvest of hay bales onto our Ford 9000 with its step-deck trailer. Before dark they got the hay bales unloaded and safely stored inside our tarp barn.
The next day it rained 0.70.” Then, the day after that it rained another 0.85.” Fortunately, in our case, we have plenty of hay leftover from last year. Therefore, we had the luxury of calling it quits for Wood Prairie haying for this year. The first of the following week we used a hay ted to un-windrow the hay prepped for baling and left it to rot and feed the soil.
However, most Maine livestock farmers remain in a predicament not of their own making. A wet Summer like this is not unknown, but has not been experienced here in Maine for quite a few years.
Maine Potato farmers and haymakers alike could use a 4-5 week drought beginning right about now.
What’s it like where you are? Caleb, Megan & Jim