The Grind for Green
The only way to describe the 2013 off season is unpredictable…and RELENTLESS. Two big late spring/early summer floods washed out the first two plantings of crops and breached some of our big protection levees. One of the major downfalls to early summer flooding is that it leaves you twice as much to do, and half the time to do it! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Fall is like vacation compared to the off-season pace!
The first priority was pumping water out of the fields to dry them up as quickly as possible for replanting. It is not nearly as enjoyable pumping water OUT of your cornfields in June as it is pumping water INTO them in October! The power Mother Nature has never ceases to amaze me…areas that might take me 90 days to flood, she can put ten feet of water on overnight.
It finally dried up enough to get the third planting of crops finished during the last week of June. While I was happy – at the time – to get a reprieve from the rain…little did I know Mother Nature had decided to shut the faucet off!! After a wet start to the year with a couple big blizzards and two big floods, I’ve now had .7″ of rain since the middle of June!! I have never seen it go from floods to severe drought so quickly.
With the drought conditions, a whole new set of problems and tasks arises. In order to keep the crops growing, we have been forced to run poly pipe from the wells and try to surface irrigate them. Wells have been turned on in other fields to “flash flood” the corn for a couple days. It’s then imperative to open the tubes in those areas to get rid of the water quickly, so as not to hurt the crops.
I also disced up several areas and planted jap millet in them. But again, we haven’t had enough moisture to get the millet to germinate. So wherever applicable, I have been flash flooding our wetland units to catalyze natural food germination. By doing so, it is giving the jap millet the moisture it needs to start growing. Although it’s been much more work than a free drink from Mother Nature, the natural foods like wild millet and smartweed have popped, and are now looking very good!
This summer has undoubtedly been a busy one, but somewhere in the madness, we have made time to build three new blinds! Two of them were put up in two new timber holes, while the other was placed in a cornfield slough that will be flooded this Fall. As always, when the morning temperatures start to cool off towards the end of summer, I begin looking forward to the upcoming season more than ever. All the sweat equity put forth in the off season will be well worth it. There isn’t a more rewarding feeling than watching it pay off as thousands of ducks descend on the buffet created.
With the sight of our first few flocks of teal and the dawn of cool mornings…it’s a sure sign that my favorite time of year is just around the corner! Best of luck to everyone preparing for another big season, and as always, be safe and ethical in the field. There’s no greater responsibility that any of us hold than to set a good example for the next generation, and show others how hunters are the BEST conservationists!
July 2013: Blind Faith