The most crucial few weeks of the farming year


I must confess I am one of those farmers rarely content with the weather.

Still, if I am honest, there are just two key events when the weather simply must be delivered as ordered. Right time, right place, right quantity, thank you very much.

There’s autumn, when we hold our breaths listening for rain as delicate new pastures send down roots for a foothold in the soils before the cool sets in.

Then, again, in the few weeks from September to November when, like frenzied squirrels rolling giant balls of sweet silage, we hope to hoard enough feed to carry the cows through the lean summer and winter months.

These 12 weeks are the sweet spot for growing grass – enough sunlight to power photosynthesis but not too much heat to stress it.


If we’re punished at these critical times, the effects ripple through an entire year. It’s enough to tempt even the most laid-back farmer to sacrifice a few goats to appease the volcano gods.

So here we are, right in the thick of it and tracking well above the average for our farm.

Last Saturday marked a minor turning point. While an iced-coffee powered Wayne carted in newly wrapped silage rolls from the paddock, the kids and I lit our final bonfire on the eve of fire restrictions and set the irrigator spinning for the first time since autumn.


It’s a fragile, fleeting and uncertain time of plenty.

The storms promising 10mm or more delivered a paltry 1.5mm.


Does it look more impressive if I tip it sideways?

It’s been a while between drinks now and if we don’t get a big rain, pronto, the annual silage harvest will not provide the buffer we need. The forecasters seem unable to agree on what the next eight days will bring.

Que sera sera. I guess.

The farmers I meet who’ve stood the test of time are generally great philosophers. They don’t scare easily and seem to simply roll with the punches.

I’m coaching myself to do the same but it doesn’t mean forgetting about a back-up plan. I put my hand up months ago to buy some silage before it was even grown. That decision could turn out to be costly if the rains come but, right now, it feels like good insurance.

2 thoughts on “The most crucial few weeks of the farming year

  1. Several things Marian – 1. Your rain gauge needs a wash – that way you get more rain!!! 😉 2. If only we had known about your bonfire we may have been able to relieve you of some of it for our firewood supply for next winter. 3. Hope you get the rain you need when you need it and in the quantity desired. And 4. Somehow manage to use the bought silage so it is not wasted – all at the same time! Is that an impossible dream? 🙂

    • Goodness!

      1. Yes, Kayepea, my rain gauge is a disgrace. If only it rained more often, I would self-clean!

      2. The wood we burnt was the stuff left over after I’d had a really good go with the chainsaw for our own wood heap.

      3. Thank you – me, too!

      4. We’ll make use of that silage, don’t worry about that! 🙂

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