When we all saw our first day of the year for 2010 way back in January and a sunny day welcomed the new beginning in the Volunteer State, most of us were pretty optimistic for what just may be ahead for the next 365 days of the New Year. Now we are sitting slap dab in the middle of 2010 and have witnessed a little bit of everything that just wasn’t in the cards way back there in January.
We started off with a winter like we haven’t seen in quite awhile. In fact, it was more like the ones I remember as a kid and I didn’t even have to walk to school in knee-deep snow five miles both ways back then. We had ponds to freeze that hadn’t done so in several years, ground around barns to become frozen solid enough to drive heavy trucks on without getting stuck, and snow coverage that lasted longer than many of us had seen for some time. This year we even had a reason to buy sleds for the kids other than the fact that we use to have one when we grew up.
When spring came around, our pastures grew in places that had been as thin as Uncle Sid’s hair on top and white clover filled pastures to the extent that in some places it has become a danger for livestock to graze. Cattle have been getting frothy bloat due to too much clover and in the state of Kentucky it has become so bad, they were calling for a state of emergency to even be declared from too much clover. For the past several years we have complained about the shortage of pasture and now we are getting just the opposite in places, proving it is a different kind of year for agriculture.
Then, the first of May we saw record rains come in one weekend to wash away newly planted corn crops and floods spill across West and Middle Tennessee taking out farm structures along with anything that got in its way. In the western area of the state rail lines were washed out causing concerns about how grain would be moved to market come harvest time, but thanks to a lot of hard work and the effort of many, it looks like those lines will be up and going in plenty of time for this year’s combines to hit the fields.
In June, as hay harvest time arrived, just as the ice and snow appeared in January, the heat baked the state during Dairy Month. Tennessee saw the hottest June on record this year, but we also received plenty of rainfall to help crops grow. The hot and humid levels remained high during the month causing our AC units to work overtime, but the corn crop has progressed ahead of the five-year- average level with many fields ahead of the silking stage at this time.
Many hay crops received a washing during this first cutting, but overall, farmers are reporting a good hay crop this time around and new growth is already getting a head start around the state for the next cutting. The hot and wet June has put many hay fields ahead of schedule and if water continues to come from the heavens as it has recently, this could be another good hay year. The old saying, “A wet June means a dry September,” has some folks wondering about what the future may hold, but with what we have seen so far this year, weather can be anyone’s guess.
With half of the year gone, we have faced blizzards, floods, earthquakes, clover plaques, oil spills in the Gulf, an over abundance of campaign yard signs along with candidates, and one of the hottest Junes on record for the state. Now we head off into the next six months facing an uncertainty of many things on several different levels. We face an election that can change the landscape of government and unknown weather patterns that can just change the landscape.
My confidence on both arenas is with our Tennessee farmers and how they handle each. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands.” The next six months could be interesting.