August 21, 2011

Summer reflections on the farm

Like every other morning, I get up early and take a walk to check the cows. It was cool and there was heavy dew on the grass along the farm road that winds through our farm back to the pastures.

The later sunrise and cooler temps all point to a rapidly dwindling summer. It was only a couple of months ago that our fields and pastures were soggy and it didn't seem that summer would ever come. Farmers were delayed in planting corn and harvesting the first hay crop.

Fast forward to the middle of July, the heat wave arrived, and the view was very different. Brutally hot, the dry weather curled the corn and stunted the grass. One thing we can count on in the North Country is our contrasting seasons.

While there is a world of difference between this morning, the rainy days of spring and the hot dry mornings of July, I can still see the beauty and sameness of the world. The mountains still cradle the horizon, the trees still frame the picture and the cows still beller in the distance as I approach. For them, nothing seems to change.

The challenge of farming is adapting to change. Farmers till the soil and plant crops with the hope that this year's harvest will be the one that overflows the silo with feed, breeding a cow and raising its calf with the anticipation that it will out perform its mother.

But there are no guarantees. The crop can get flooded and yellow or the calf could be a disappointment. Whether or not a farmer succeeds depends in large part on how they adapt to the challenges that Mother Nature presents. This year has been one of those years.

While we can't control the weather, the study and science of agriculture during the past 100 years has helped farmers to increase yields, improve the marketing of their products and improve their management skills. As farm numbers have dropped 65 percent since 1950, individual farm production has increased to where one farmer today supports the food needs of 140 people. This ability to adapt and increase production has been a direct result of the scientific advances in plant and animal genetics, increased mechanization and new technologies such as computerization, global position navigation and genetically modified crops.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Watch out for farm machinery

    Accidents on roadways involving farm vehicles can be avoided with a little bit of caution, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    March 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Better bulls improve beef quality

    Artificial insemination can be used to get the most from a beef-cattle herd, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    March 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Healthy environment good for farming

    Best practices and conservation are top priorities for modern farmers, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    March 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Planning for greener pastures

    While it can be time consuming and costly at first, good pasture management pays off in the long run, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    February 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Chicken raising has rewards

    Many people interested in growing their own food supply may enjoy this hobby, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    February 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg A season for learning

    Crop Congress at Miner Institute just one of the opportunities available for farmers to keep up with the latest information, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    January 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers getting information in different ways

    The Internet ushered in a whole host of conveniences that farmers can take advantage of with little effort, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    January 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Animal husbandry important in winter

    Keeping animals comfortable during cold weather is only one responsibility of caring owners, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    December 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Taking care of business

    Year's end is a taxing time for many area farmers who have to keep track of all their own finances, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    December 8, 2013 1 Photo