Letter to Dave

Dear Dave,

I’m not sure everyone knows it so I will mention that last week you helped me with my new radio show. I interviewed you twice during my program and it sounded really good. I am still getting used to the equipment so I probably didn’t participate as much as I should have but you did a great job.

We got our hard frost Monday night, Dave. Our first hard frost is cause for celebration around here because it means the cattle can go back on pasture. Sometime in September, I take the cattle off the pasture and feed them hay. This allows the pasture to mature after which the plant uses the sun to create reserves to send to the plant’s roots. After a hard frost, the plant dies and can be eaten without harm to the grass or legume.

If I allow the cattle to eat right up until frost, this weakens the plant. The plant not only uses its’ reserves to grow instead of strengthening the roots, it also isn’t very large because the cattle keep eating it down. Tiny, eaten-down plants don’t create much energy and send none to the roots. It then gets hit by our nasty winter and starts next spring as a very weak plant. The larger the plant, the more leaves it has to gather energy from the sun for strong roots.

I am almost done with fencing, Dave. Each fall I look at the fence and decide what could be improved. This year, I removed the last of the barb wire and also made some gate openings. I made gate openings so I could mow on the outside of the the fence, Dave. If I mow the first five feet outside the fence then there is little grass to lay across the electric fence wire and ground the fence. It also looks nice.

The crop farmers are about finished around here, Dave. I’ve seen lots of pictures online of the last truckload of beans going into the bin or the last load of beets going to the dump. It feels good to see as this can be a scary time of the year to harvest. A little rain now stays for a long time and can make harvest a very dark time. Most of the fields are clean now and a little extra rain made it easier to chisel plow. There’s still corn to combine but scary harvests seem to be part of the game with corn in this area of the world. I hope the corn will be dry and ready to go for everyone.

You and I have been talking about precision agriculture lately. The question has never been whether precision agriculture is here or not. The question is what will provide the most affordable, timely data and imagery; drones or newly-launched satellites? Which source will provide timely, vivid data so that farmers can make crop decisions. With markets bearish and harvest almost over, this is one of the few good coffee-shop questions for this winter’s table-top farming.

Tell everyone hello, your little bro’

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