From the Field: Spring is On the Way!

From the Field is a bi-monthly column written by Mark Campbell, Farm Bureau Field Services Director for the Central District. He writes about Farm Bureau member benefits and County Farm Bureau activities.

While not a Farm Bureau activity, the winter weather has been the dominant topic of discussion for the past 3-4 months.  Although we did reschedule our Legislative Day at the Capitol and Presidents Conference due to winter weather. 
In addition to cold temperatures, significant moisture has been a big factor in farming this winter.  Many of the grain producers couldn’t get on fields to spread nitrogen.  In some areas, extreme cold temperatures and lack of snow cover stressed some wheat fields and other small grains and diminished stand survivability. Saturated pastures made for muddy feeding and tire tracks in the field that are still present.  Or you may have lost a boot to the mud, or water and mud splashed over your muck boots and down into your socks.  Extra hay stocks at the beginning of the feeding season have quickly declined as livestock required more feed to stay warm and maintain body condition. 
As I heard on a TV farm program one day, the discussion was about field conditions due to the weather.  But the weather man reminded everyone that spring will come.  Temperatures will warm, and farmers will start planting in a few weeks.


We, as farmers and ranchers, are as much in tune with nature and weather as any other profession that I know of.  We have the benefit in Virginia of having four distinct seasons.  Although some people would like to have had a shorter winter.  But as the calendar pages flip, the seasons roll by.  Spring will come.

We were teased this week with two days of temperatures in the 70s.  Teased is right, because Thursday is supposed to have a high that won’t make it to 40 degrees in some parts of the state.  But spring is on its way. 
I love spring time on the farm.  There are all kinds of signs that spring is on its way, and once it arrives; our cold and wet winter will be a distant memory.  The past two weeks, there have been small sprigs of green grass pushing up through the leftover hay that I unrolled a couple of months ago to feed the cows.  The birds such as Meadowlarks and Kill Deer scatter across the fields.  The daylight hours each day are getting longer.  The animals seem to have a pep in their step.  On these warm days, the lambs run and jump as if their energy is limitless.  The cows take the occasion at hay feeding time to give a snort and then a buck and jump at the hay bale being carried across the pasture. 
Farmers and ranchers have the honor and privilege to be stewards of these natural resources, but to also enjoy the splendor of nature.  Springtime for many farmers and ranchers brings calving or lambing.  For others it is the sight of green plants popping out of the soil in rows of green across a field.  With the popularity of backyard chicken flocks, baby chicks arrive on the scene.  
Calving and lambing never ceases to be miraculous to me.  To see that calf or lamb born and shake its head and take its first breath is truly amazing.  To have the built in internal functions and signals to get the lungs to start working and the instinct for the calf to get up and go toward the udder and get milk is nature’s mystery.  I had a heifer that calved during the March snow storm, which for a period of time was a blizzard.  Just like spring coming on its cycle and timing, the birth process of that heifer was taking place and it wasn’t going to stop for a snow storm.  The heifer, now cow, and calf are doing great.  I did have a barn that I got her in before calving to offer some relief from the wind and snow and made available some dry straw to lay on.  In the registered cattle business, most of the cattle have names as part of their registration pedigree.  The little bull calf born on March 3rd was aptly named Blizzard.
 Even though the temperatures have still been cold in the latter half of the winter, the longer hours of daylight have been an overriding factor in getting some typical spring things going.
The past several months in Farm Bureau have been really busy and also a signal of spring is that our meetings start to wind down.  In March we already had the Governor’s Conference on Trade and Presidents Conference.  Meetings still left in March are District Leadership and Policy Development Meetings and the State Women’s Conference. 
Time is a valuable commodity and there always seems to be lots going on.  But I hope that you get to take a few minutes to take in and enjoy natures Spring show.  It has its time and then another season will be upon us. 
Until next time,

Mark

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