Our summer here in the Finger Lakes region of New York State has turned hot and very dry. Only a few occasional showers have brought us just a little relief from the summer heat – just enough to settle the dust as my Father would often remark.
For those farmers who were able to work their fields and plant their corn after a very wet and cool spring, the corn is indeed “knee high by the fourth of July”, but the corn in most of the fields shows the effects of either early wet spots in the field which causes the corn kernels to rot or very dry spots where the corn is short and struggling for the lack of moisture. You can immediately tell the health of a corn field if all of the planted corn is uniform in height and a very dark green in color.
July is harvest time for wheat which was planted last fall. The new varieties of wheat have a very short stalk length. On the Ohio dairy farm where I grew up in, the straw left after the wheat was harvested was a prized part of the wheat crop as the farmer used it as bedding for his cows. Today’s modern dairy farms keep the cows on rubber mats and wash out the loafing pen with a fire hose – no bedding needed. The wheat straw is still a valuable part of the harvest and is used for animal bedding or sold as mulch for gardens or fields.
Most dairy cows are raised without ever going outside. All their food requirements are brought to them. But for the farmer who lives nearby, he prefers to pasture his milking cows during the summer and then bringing them in during winter. Due to the dry conditions, the grass growing in the fields has slowed down and this farmer has to move his pasture fence lines frequently.
There are many family farms that market their produce right alongside the road. The strawberry season at Tomion’s Farm Market near Penn Yan, NY has been long lasting and we have been treated to some of the nicest sweetest strawberries that we have had in a long time. Fresh red raspberries and blue berries are also ripe for the picking at Tomion’s.