Global climate change stinks. It has been raining on the East Coast for the past month and the average temperature in New England is 10 to 20 degrees below normal. This is after a really, really, cold winter.
Obviously some jobs are more effected by the weather than others and shepherding is one of them. But whenever I start to complain, I think about roofers and housepainters who CAN’T work in this weather and I shut my trap. (Our own house has been half painted for months now.)
All this rain is also terrible for farmers who make- and depend on- hay.
These fields probably look beautiful to most people driving by…
but to farmers, these pictures are heart-breaking.
See how the stalks are bending over? That’s because they are going to seed. Which means most of the nutritional value in the hay has already been lost. It will still be cut and baled and fed to animals in the fall, but it will take a whole lot more of it to meet the nutritional needs of the cows, horses and sheep that depend on it for the majority of their diet.
The expression “make hay while the sunshines” isn’t just a suggestion: it’s a stone-cold, iron-clad order. Hay can only be cut when it’s dry and when there is no rain the forecasts for the following week. Since we haven’t had that kind of sunshine in a month, the hay remains uncut in the fields.
The only thing worse than letting hay go to seed is trying to sneak in a cutting and getting caught by the rain. Once the hay is cut, it has to “cure” in the fields for a few days before baling. Rain on cut hay = a total loss to the farmer. I actually got a lump in my throat when I took this picture and I’m getting another as I write this.
Why is all of this so important? Besides the fact that small farms that almost always teeter on the edge of insolvency are watching one of their key cash crops rot in the fields? Because I make wool and wool is made from hay. Hay prices will almost certainly skyrocket in the fall.
What can you do? Support your local small farmer. When you pass a farm stand this weekend stop and buy some berries, lettuce or apples. Try to buy more yarn from small farms and less from international conglomerates.
Farmers will survive this rain, as they have survived all kinds of weather since time began. They are a tenacious, never-say-die lot. They don’t need your pity, they need your business.