One thing for sure, it’s been blazing hot weather—with little end in sight. More and more cattle folks are starting to feed hay. It’s awful early to start using up what is a limited supply. If you need hay, get it bought as soon as possible. Not a lot is being offered for sale. And prices are going up, and up. Some is being sold for up to $90 a round bale. Anyway you cut it, feeding expensive hay to cattle that are getting cheaper by the day can be a ruinous experience. Culling the old cows along with pulling calves early can help even though it hurts.

With September right around the corner, some farmers are starting to think winter pastures. If we get moisture next month and on into fall overseeding with ryegrass or planting small grains on tilled ground could be a lifesaver and maintain cattle numbers. One idea being considered is planting cowpeas for livestock grazing. Dr. Gerald Smith, at the Overton Center, has developed a new cowpea named “Ace” that fits much of East Texas. Ace can be planted now and within a few weeks—with rain—should be ready to graze through November. Smith said Ace is not grown for the dinner table but for livestock grazing and hay making. It also provides lots of browse for wildlife. Ace, said Smith, is an improved version of the old iron and clay cowpeas many farmers have planted for decades.

With pastures drying up the danger of wildfire seems to increase daily. Most of our counties are under burn bans limiting outside burning. It might be a wise decision to hook on to the disc and plow a firebreak around the pastures and the hay storage stacks whether in a barn or outside. Losing valuable forage to fire and the pain of locating replacement bales could be costly!

Then there is the old standby–ryegrass. It can be overseeded alone or with fertilizer. With moisture, and early planting, grazing can start by early fall. It’s a gamble but with the shortage, and price, of hay it could be a way out. Cost is not excessive and most of the needed fertilizer can be applied early next year. Some forward thinkers add turnip seed or radish seed to the ryegrass mix.

Thought for the week: One old timer says the reason Mayberry was so peaceful and quiet was because nobody was married. Andy, Aunt Bea, Barney, Floyd Howard, Goober, Gomer, Sam, Earnest T. Bass, Helen, Thelma Lou, Clara and, of course, Opie were all single. The only married person was Otis — and he stayed drunk!

horace@valornet.com