This time of year, I spend a good portion of my day checking over all the plants and animals I take care of. The lack of rain and the extremely hot weather in Illinois has really done a number on some of my crops and my animals require additional care to make sure they can handle the heat.
First, I head out to check the cattle.
We’ve had some calves here recently and I like to check in on them as much as I can to be sure they are looking healthy, that their Mama’s are looking well-watered and fed, and that the cows are taking good care of their calves.
Here’s a picture of a bunch of my cattle. A farm just isn’t a farm without some livestock.
On the way, I purposefully drive by several of my fields. The corn is looking dry and heat stressed though this early in the morning, the leaves aren’t quite so rolled and brittle looking. The leaves will roll throughout the day, making their surface area as small as possible so that they lose the least amount of water under the hot July sun. This doesn’t happen every year, just in years when we experience a severe lack of rain.
My double-cropped beans are looking ok too, though they could really use a good drink. Double-cropping is something Illinois farmers do with wheat (which grows a bit in the fall, is dormant during the winter, comes out in the spring and is harvested around the first couple of weeks in July) and soybeans, planting the soybeans after the wheat is harvested. This crop rotation system allows me to get two crop harvests off of the same piece of ground.
And I spend the rest of the day helping to place tile in one of my fields.
Tiling a field is something farmers do to allow fields to drain after heavy rains. Of course, we aren’t experiencing heavy rains this year, but tiling my fields now means that when we have a heavy rain event eventually, my seedlings won’t be drown out by standing water.
The day ends with a fishing expedition in our pond with my daughter Laurel. She heads to college in the fall and we are enjoying spending these last few weeks together before everything changes. Here’s a whopper we can brag about in town!
Illinois family farmer and
Chairman of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board