A morning that makes it worth doing.

McFarmer

Active member
Sitting here on the patio drinking that first cup of coffee.

Our farm includes a lot of hay ground along with CRP in addition to the corn and beans. When I had cows we rotated the pastures, MIG for those who know. The pastures got reseeded very few years and that kept them labeled as fields for FSA purposes. When we sold the cows much of the pasture then qualified for CRP, even though it wasn’t suitable for row crops. Alfalfa is a crop according to the FSA.

Anyway, we kept the better ground in hay and sell it to a local guy. Much of the hay is an alfalfa/grass mix, some is pretty much straight alfalfa and some is pure grass, native and introduced. The CRP and hay is a patchwork pattern, each adjoining the other in 5-10 acre blocks with one hay field being 25 acres.

The big field is a money making field, it gets cut intensively and needs to make money without regard to wildlife. Lots of nests get destroyed there first cutting. The other fields I wait and just took the first cutting off yesterday. I have a local guy come out before cutting and determine if the ground nesting birds have fledged. He knows his stuff, he has been a national director of a well known conservation organization.

He and I are mostly interested in the song birds, he cares nothing about the pheasants. We pay attention to the bob-o-links, ducks, meadow larks, dickcissels, red wings, various sparrows and such. He said early last week most everything was off the nest and in a few days could get out of the way. Also we had a flush of alfalfa aphids this spring, we cut the big field a little early to knock those down but left the others untreated. That cost me money because the alfalfa portion of the mix got devastated by the aphids. I will let you ponder what spraying for the aphids would have done to the general insect population and the result on the food supply for the young.

So I cut those pieces, probably half the total acres, Friday and they started baling last night. When I cut them I got zero song birds out but quite a few pheasant broods. The song birds had moved out. In the adjoining CRP I saw a flock of bob-o-links that had probably 40-50 birds on top of the plants and who knows how many sitting where I couldn’t see them. When the fellow came out to assess the nesting we saw a group of 15 male bob-o-links all together. He said once the young leave the nest the female stays on the ground with them and the males fly cover for them once they all group together.

So back to the original topic. I sit here on a perfectly still morning smelling the fresh cut and fresh baled hay listening to the roosters that have been evicted from their usual stomping grounds protesting the recent events. But don’t worry, there is as much CRP for them to move into.

When (if) the CRP is released for harvest I will maybe cut a third of it, leaving a patchwork of cover for the winter. Cut hay is one of the better nesting sites the following year. I can’t sell it but after I give it to the fellow who buys my hay, I’ll be surprised if he charges me for the raking and baling on the rest.

So I hope I haven’t bored you all but the next time I read on these pages about the “dirt kickers” or whatever the reference was a while back, I’ll just reply with a link to this thread.

Thanks for reading, and have a good day.
 

Wolfchief

Member
When I was ag banking it was a pleasure to know several farmers like you. Your kind of attitude gives the lie to those who would point to "the farm payment giveaways making the farmers rich." A very little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.....
 

jonnyB

Well-known member
Interesting read...and how did the pheasants survive the cuttings? Or is that yet to be determined?
Thanks for posting.
 

Bob Peters

Active member
Great post. I have learned so much about nature, biology, ecology, and agronomy since I started pheasant hunting. And here I thought it was just about shooting birds and drinking beers in the bunkhouse at night.
 
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