I silenced my alarm before it sounded. I lay there watching the soft rain running down the window. As the drops gathered pace and started to merge together forming vertical rivulets, I could feel myself becoming calm. It was one less problem to worry about.
The forecast had materialised and the rain had started. It had probably been dry for three weeks. There had been a little rain just after cutting the silage. Before that, there had been lovely weather; also dry. The experts tell us that there is a deficit of 60 to 70 mls of rainfall.
I got out of the bed and went to the window to have a better look. The footpath was wet which was a good start. I sent Tim a text to announce the arrival of the rain as he was in Dublin at a conference. I hoped that he would relax too knowing that the much needed moisture had begun to fall. I went down stairs and made my porridge and sat watching nature respond to the rain.
Gradually, the woods across the valley began to breathe. They are in full luscious leaf and probably at their greenest. The transpiration from the trees always starts in the same spot from within the dark green trees. It always begins in the same place.
The plumes stretched skyward resembling smoke. Gradually, they thickened, sat there for a while and then began to disperse. All the signs were there for a “grand soft day”. The last round of nitrogen elicited no response. That would come now. The grass would grow and the new grass seeds would flourish.
Nature responding to rain
At the moment, we have five buzzards around the farm. They felt it was time for a good wash. They soared high above the trees, circling and playing in the rain. I needed a posy of small roses from the garden for school.
Young starlings chattered and the latest clutch of swallows took to flight. I grabbed my secateurs and headed out. I could hear the soil responding to the moisture.
The hosta leaves were turned upward to funnel water. The lily flowers were filling with gentle droplets. I’m sure the snails were getting ready for a feast! The leaves and flowers of plants glistened in the rain.
Weeds on the driveway would be loose, easy to pull and clear away soon. A little time and everything would come right. We are so dependent on rainfall to grow adequate grass to nourish our animals.
Not everyone wanted this rain for all sorts of reasons
A dry June was quite an unusual phenomenon for us. Drought generally doesn’t come until after the middle of July. It is something that we are quite used to experiencing and it takes managing. The most important thing is to take corrective action as soon as the grass wedge indicates a deficit to come.
As growth rates fell, we introduced bales of silage and ration to supplement the grass. That meant that it was costing extra money to feed the cows so profit was being reduced. Yet, maintaining production is really important. Cows are also now in calf and need proper feeding to nourish and hold onto their calves.
Not everyone is happy
After school, I had a meeting in Cork. After the meeting, I popped into a shoe shop. It was an opportunity to start the search for sandals or shoes for Colm and Elaine’s wedding. I was at the desk asking for a size when the door burst open and two ladies rushed in. It was raining again.
“Oh, dear, isn’t the rain awful! Would it ever stop?” one complained. I couldn’t help smiling and saying “Actually, it’s wonderful. We’re dairy farmers and we really need the rain to grow the grass to feed our cows!” To which the other replied “I don’t want the grass to grow because I don’t want to have to cut the lawn!”
And so the story goes. Not everyone wanted this rain for all sorts of reasons. I hear that there are other farmers who have had too much rain in recent weeks. This is equally challenging. They have the grass but run the risk of the cows ploughing up the field and damaging potential regrowth.
Grazing is challenging for many reasons. Don’t let the difficulties get to you. Focus on the positives.