If Heaven Doesn’t Have Hayfields

It’s been a cool, wet spring here in the Pacific Northwest. In North Idaho, we’re generally cutting hay at the end of May or beginning of June. Here it is June 30th, and while there’s some acres lying on the ground, there isn’t too much rolled into bales yet.

While there was plenty of moisture to fuel a bumper hay crop, the cool temperatures delayed growth. I think the high temperature forecast for today is 65 degrees. Did I mention it’s the last day of June? That’s cool!

The cool, wet spring has impacted other things as well. Seeding of spring wheat, barley and pulse crops (field peas, lentils, and chickpeas or garbanzo beans) was significantly pushed back. Some areas are several weeks behind schedule, and some areas weren’t able to seed all their acres.

Because spring planting was pushed back, so was the spring cattle work. Branding, fly-tagging, vaccinating and hauling to mountain summer pastures was delayed. Even with the extra spring rain, grass down on the river canyon pastures was drying up.

In addition, repairing fence and spraying winter wheat all need done.

So much work, so little time – I think most every rancher feels the same way. But this morning as I was walking Doc, the smell of grass drying into hay for storage swirled around me. And it struck me; it’s the little things.

Ranchers don’t have time for a lot of vacations – or any vacations. They work long days, year-round, dependent on the cooperation of the weather and volatile market prices. And there are days, I’m sure, where many ranchers think Why wasn’t I a banker or a tire shop attendant or a grocery store clerk?

But the little things – a baby calf getting up for the first time, the first time a young pup works a cow correctly, the smell of a freshly cut hayfield drifting in through the windows – those are the things that make it all click. So if heaven doesn’t have hayfields, well, I still plan on going, but maybe I’ll start a few of ’em growing.


  1. Erica

    I didn’t realize farm work was that delayed in your area.

    Putting up hay has been set back this year because of the good moisture we have been getting. We just got started haying this week. Alfalfa weevils are bad again.

    Our area has been cool also. With the exception of a few days in the 80’s and 96 last Wednesday.

    Excellent list of “little things.”

  2. Great to hear the update from your area Robyn. It pushed 85 degrees today, and everyone has been able to get rolling on putting up hay.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the summer and early fall play out – hopefully everything will cooperate to offset the late spring!

Leave a comment: