A Summer of Bounty!
The Off Season of 2014 has been one of many changes. It dried up nicely, the ground worked up well, and I worked feverishly to roll in the seed before my wife’s approaching due date! The planting went off without a hitch, outside of a late Friday afternoon phone call from Kate that she might potentially be in labor…I put the tractor in park and was out the door running for the truck before I could even hang up the phone! Although Vivian decided that time to wait a few more days, it allowed me to get finished up entirely and focus on her impending arrival.
The following week, the call from Kate came again…only this time, our daughter was good and ready to make her grand debut! On June 6th, we welcomed the next generation of duck hunters into our lives and our beautiful daughter, Vivian Ann Vandemore, was born. I’ve never had a feeling like the one in the hospital with Mama and daughter both healthy and happy, and still can’t describe the joy she has brought our lives. All the while that weekend, I watched a gentle rain come down while holding our newborn girl and thought of it providing new seeds in the ground the moisture they needed to germinate and take off. But, I had seen it too many times before…things look great, and then too much rain causes flooding and replanting. There was a ten day period there right off the bat where the river was very high and threatened to breach our levees. But as luck would have it, it receded and our crops were off to a fantastic start with ample rains.
The last two off seasons have been characterized by late Spring floods and Summer drought, much to my dismay. Unfortunately, it means a heck of a lot more work for me with replanting from the late floods and trying to flash flood to get water on the crops in the heat of Summer. Luckily, this year we were blessed with over 13″ of rain in June. It started to get pretty dry in July with roughly 2.5″ of rain in the first week and nothing the remainder of the month. The miserably hot and dry Augusts of the last two years have so far been replaced with mild temps and 7.65″ of rain. In a nutshell…there is no possible way the farms could look any better than they do right now!
Without the constant struggle of battling drought, I have been able to get a lot of other projects accomplished this summer. We have a couple excellent new blinds in place that are sure to be lights out come Fall. The moist soil drawdowns in the wetlands have provided a cornucopia of incredible natural waterfowl foods. The smartweed looks fantastic, the millet has jumbo heads on it, nutsedge, water hemp, panicum, foxtail, etc. all abound throughout every wetland we have. In my opinion, when it comes to managing for waterfowl, diversification of foods is the key and this year is exceptional. After all, they don’t call it a buffet if there is only one item on the menu!
Here we are about two weeks away from the early September Teal season and the kickoff for our waterfowl hunting in Missouri. I have always loved the early Teal season and look forward to it about as much as anything. It is great for the dogs and great for the soul….hot coffee, a wet dog, whistling wings, and watching the world wake up in the marsh are pretty hard to beat in my world. The August rains have eased the pain of pumping the wetlands I put water on for early Teal season. Last year, pumping was a struggle with it all being absorbed into the ground and evaporating about as fast as it could be pumped. This year, with the ground saturated and catching some rains, gains are almost immediately seen. I have seen several Teal and Rails already, the habitat is spectacular, and with record numbers of Blue Wings set to migrate down this Fall I have the excitement of a kid again…..it can’t get here soon enough!!!!
The only thing I can imagine better than a good Teal hunt…will be having a great one and then coming home to a smiley, giggling, little bundle of joy! From a farming and hunting standpoint, this will be an off season that I will never forget. I am blessed to have a wonderful wife who works alongside me in this great industry, and together we are overjoyed to have welcomed the next generation of waterfowlers into our own family. I hope you all have a great season opener and be safe! Uphold the standards of excellence and respect that our heritage demands, and above all, have fun. Our time is near!