Today is January 1st 2019. Happy New Year!
Probably shouldn't say, "good to see 2018 in the rear view mirror" as who knows what is ahead for 2019, but I am glad to see the start of 2019 and a new year on the Jamison Family Farm. Spent some time today there and found ourselves cutting and gathering a bit of firewood. Things are drying out a bit; the wind was brisk and it felt unseasonably warm. All in all, it was a calm, uneventful day - a nice way to start off 2019.
The tree we cut shown in the picture above was in the Bull Pasture. It has been dead for a few years and made a steady contribution of dropped limbs and twigs in that field, so we cut it for firewood. The trunk is left high as we will put a bull dozer against it to get the stump out and rid the field of the whole tree.
We are hopeful for 2019 and if the weather cooperates, expect a bumper crop of hay. Additional acreage is going to be added and in addition to our Timothy, we expect to plant some annual Teff grass. We will build more kicker racks on our existing hay wagons to go along with our baler mounted kicker...
John Deere calls it a " #42 Ejector". All I know is that it's a massive labor savor as it eliminates a person on the wagon stacking in the hottest of hot days. Depending on the size, we can fill a wagon with anywhere from 130 to 150 square bales of hay in 20-30 minutes.
May the Hay Dog is glad to see 2019 too. Dressing up for Christmas 2018 just about wore her out...
Looking forward to making First Quality Hay in 2019 and wish everyone a very...
Happy New Year!!!
We have finished haying for 2018, things have calmed down - except for the coming aftermath of Hurricane Florance. We're expecting rain and some wind, but have our fingers crossed there will be no damage. I have one field, "The Bull Pasture" that can get some water in it from Potts Creek running along side.
Activities going on at the Jamison Family Farm are multifold, we will be taking soil samples of all our fields and applying lime (as necessary), certainly potassium (sometimes referred to as potash) and phosphorus. It's good to also apply a little nitrogen in the fall as it promotes tillering - read leafy material. We can't get straight phosphorus from our supplier, but they have what is called DAP - diammonium phosphate. Fertilizer is typically identified by numbers, for example, most are familiar with a bag of 10-10-10. That bag, in order of the numbers, has 10% nitrogen (N), 10% phosphorus (P) and 10% potassium (K). The DAP we apply is 18-46-0, so we get 18% nitrogen along for the ride when we apply it - scratching the itch for fall applied nitrogen, while filling the need for phosphorus.
The "10"; we will continue to clear with hopes we can plant Teff in it next year. Our field of timothy on Crown Hill appears strong; we should get a bumper crop out of it in 2019.
We thought we'd have a new barn of some sort in 2018, but for various reasons, that did not happen. Clearing the "10" and adding hay shelter space is our highest priority going into the Spring of 2019. On another front, our International Harvester Farmall 756 is likely to get an engine rebuild, wide front end and a few other upgrades. Pic of 756 below...
If you've ever visited the farm or bought hay from us, often we point beyond the "big house" to the "hill". That is where Crown Hill resides, along with many other fields - all of which, to the extent we can safely put a tractor on them, will become hay fields. When I was on the farm the other day, I took this panoramic picture looking down from the "top" of the hill.
Crown hill is just ahead center-left. If you could fly beyond those mountains straight ahead - you would land in Covington.
Without a doubt, 2018 has been both a very difficult, yet a very successful year haying. We struggled with unrelenting rain - causing delays and hampering dry down, etc. We also had our share of equipment breakdowns. While we made more hay than we ever have, we only made about 60% of what we could, but hay we did make tested-out extremely well. Some rain delays caused hay to become overripe, as well as, letting weeds grow-in. We refuse to bale trash hay and pass it off as "horse quality hay", and several acres were let go to seed and bush hogged down. We do have some "goat" customers on a budget and any hay we deem not "horse quality" in our stack, they are glad to take at a reduced price. It helps them and helps us empty our barn. The pic below is our Massey Ferguson model 50 diesel taking down what would have been a nice timothy field had the weather cooperated. The good news with that field is - the timothy went to seed, so we got something out of it.
I'll be writing more blogs, putting up more pics and adding a few haying videos as we roll out of Summer into Fall and Winter. While things may be slowing down a bit, we continue to pursue First Quality Hay.
All of our test results for our first cutting hay are in hand. May the Hay Dog has evaluated and gives them 2 bones up...
With each cutting of hay, we take core samples and send to Equi-Analytical for testing. We use wet chemistry via the 603 Trainer test. Below is the description of what results are to be gleaned from Equi-Analytical's website:
"(603)Trainer - utilizes traditional analytical methods to determine protein, fiber, carbonhydrates and minerals. Includes moisture, dry matter, digestible energy, crude protein, estimated lysine, acid detergent fiber, neutral detergent fiber, Ethanol Soluble Carbohydrates (ESC), Water Soluble Carbohydrates (WSC), starch, non fiber carbohydrates (NFC), calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, molybdenum."
All in all we submitted five tests. We test our hay for each field and within a field, we will take multiple tests if the hay is cut on a different day - even if it is a few days away.
Our hay is low in sugar (ESC+starch), low in potassium and iron.
A summary range across a few test result items - all based on Dry Matter basis:
Crude Protein: 8.9 - 14.9%
ADF: 39.0 - 42.3%
NDF: 63.4 - 70.1%
ESC (Simple Sugars) : 4.3 - 8.2%
Starch: 0.2 - 0.8%
Note - none of the combinations of ESC + starch on an individual test exceeded 8.4%
Potassium: 1.86 - 2.51 ppm
Iron: 84 - 165 ppm
RFV: 74 - 86
All hay is sorted/stored based on test results such that one can pick/choose their hay with respect to a specific forage test.
If you are interested in what we think is some nice timothy hay - we'd appreciate your business.
If you want copies of our test results, let us know.
For test results and/or questions - email: FirstQualityHay@icloud.com
The Jamison Family
(and May the Hay Dog... )
We start cutting hay...
Cutting will start on Wednesday May 23rd and we will bale into and through Memorial Day weekend. First bales maybe Friday the 25th, but certainly Saturday May 26th. Again - the weather can throw a wrench into everything.
I get a lot of questions regarding the business side of buying hay from us. Here are a few bits...
1. Can I pick up hay the day you bale it. Ans: Yes. We have a spot where we will bring our hay wagons, hand down the hay from them for you to load.
2. How much do your bales weight? Ans: 35-45 lbs typically. Weight varies with humidity the day we bale.
3. How long are your bales? Ans: 30 inches, give or take a couple inches either way.
4. How tight are the bales. Ans: We bale a tight bale, no puff balls or banana bales in our stacks.
4. Will you take a check. Ans: We prefer cash (hard to bounce a dollar bill), but there are exceptions. Receipt provided.
5. Sales tax - really? Ans: Yep - the Commonwealth of Virginia wants their cut (no pun intended).
6. Do you deliver? Ans: No - we simply don't have the trucks/trailers to deliver. Some folks bring their horse trailer, others hire a neighbor with a trailer and/or truck and some have rented a Uhaul for a day.
7. Will you hold hay? Ans: Generally No. We've been stiffed by more than one customer that had us hold hay on the promise they'd pick it up. Not only did they not come for the hay or let me know they weren't - I turned away customers with cash who bought elsewhere.
8. How much do you charge per bale? Ans: For 2018, no more than $5.00 per bale. This pricing reflects the shorter length of 30 inches. Ultimately pricing will be set by the hay quality and forage test results. If you come out for hay the day we bale we will give a 25 cent discount per bale.
Fingers crossed for a great haying season! Email with questions to FirstQualityHay@icloud.com or call us at (540) 597-8147.
The Jamison Family
At the Jamison Family Farm, one thing for which there is no shortage are rocks! The rock pile Iva is standing on is one piled-up by my great grandfather - James Henry Jamison. There are several rock piles of the same size around the farm - "over the hill".
James Henry would have farmed with horse pulled implements such as a single bottom moldboard plow. Occasionally, we find a broken plowshare; I imagine rocks in that pile exacted a price on his plows from time to time. James Henry probably was planting wheat, maybe corn or beans of some sort in those fields, perhaps some Timothy hay...
When I was a boy, these fields served as pasture for cattle. To the extent we can safely use a tractor on them, one by one, we are transforming these old overgrown pastures into First Quality Hay fields. As we do so - I am reminded some things never change - even across generations. Just as James Henry carried rocks out of these fields, we find ourselves doing the same...
We're not so big that we can't walk our fields and give them individual attention. Before our hay grows so tall one can't see them, we are walking the tree-lines bordering our hay fields and picking up limbs and sticks that have fallen over the winter.
While this has been an extended cold spring, I AM reminded it IS spring on the farm and warmer weather is on the way...
Our Timothy hay is coming along nicely. This past weekend, I was able to spray a non-residual broadleaf herbicide to control weeds. In addition, our stands are dense in all fields and in my opinion, more than anything, that is our best herbicide. Anything can happen, but I think we are on our way to a very good year with respect to hay quality and overall volume.
The goal is to begin cutting in the days preceding Memorial Day weekend and continuing into mid-June until finished baling for our first cutting. Due to the colder spring weather, this time line might slip - we'll see. From now until we begin cutting hay, the frequency of facebook page and blog posts will increase - stay tuned, First Quality Hay is on the way...
This past March 8th and 9th, I attended a Hay and Baleage Short Course put on by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. The location was in Waynesboro GA, just South of Augusta. There was an incredible amount of info dispensed at the course and one thing stood out to me above all else, the University of Georgia takes haying seriously. I think all but one topic was presented by a Phd of some discipline and the one person that didn't have a Phd, was working on one. The depth of knowledge amongst these folks was steep. I listened, took notes and asked a lot of questions.
1. How to Cut, Cure and Handle High Quality Hay.
2. Preventing Hay Molding and Heating.
3. Hay Storage Systems.
4. Hay for Horses: Figuring Out What Horse Owners Want.
5. Climate Outlook and Implications for the Hay Market.
6. Drought Management
7. Problem Insects and What to Do About Them.
8. Problem Weeds and What to Do About Them.
9. The Uptake, Mode of Action and Fate of Herbicides Used in Hayfields.
10. Herbicide Resistance: A Growing Issue for Hay Producers.
11. Understanding Forage Quality.
12. Improving Forage Quality.
13. Balancing a Ration Utilizing Hay Samples.
14. Fine-Tuning Forage Fertilization.
15. Alfalfa Production in the South.
16. Forage Bermudagrass Varietees for Southeastern Hay Producers.
17. Methods for Vegetative Establishment.
18. Economics of Baled Silage.
19. Keys to Making Baled Silage.
Friday afternoon, we left the Extension office building class-room/auditorium and met at the Southeast Research and Education Center - a research farm of about 700 acres if I recall correctly. There we watched demos of haying equipment, but most importantly the UGA staff demonstrated equipment used to take hay forage samples, methods for forage analysis, as well as, soil and plant tissue sampling. Rolled-up in all of this was interpreting the results.
Prior to going, we were asked to purchase and read the following book, "Southern Forages." It is a book I would recommend.
Question: Why attend such a conference? I burned a couple days of my day job vacation and there was a fair amount of expense involved.
Answer: At the Jamison Family Farm, we want to know what we are doing and why - every step of the way. This Hay and Baleage Short Course was a means to that end.
Continuing education is an integral part of making First Quality Hay.
Took some time out today to have a walk about and a look-see at three new hay fields we are bringing online this year; all planted in Clair Timothy. These fields were planted last fall and I was anxious to see if they survived the winter cold. Knock on wood, so far, so good. Below is a pic of timothy coming in the "Bull Pasture".
Next on my walk, I went "across the road" to a couple other fields, starting with the "Orchard Field"...
Then I made my way (on foot) to "Crown Hill". Here is a pic along the way. From a distance, note the green strip at the top. That is timothy growing on Crown Hill.
Working my way to the left from the above view, I continued to hike up - making my way around to a spot above Crown Hill. You can see a divot in the field, that's where the name, "Crown Hill" originates.
And then Crown Hill...
Alleghany County use to be a place where iron ore was mined. Just down the road towards Covington is a spot called Jordan Mines. Potts Creek Runs through it and there are old pictures of a community that once thrived there; houses and buildings on both sides of the creek. On our farm, we occasionally stumble onto a rusty rock that might have been a candidate for an iron furnace back in the day. I encountered such a rock today while out walking on the farm...
When I finished my walk about, I turned my attention to my old Massey Ferguson Model 50 Diesel tractor. It has been plagued with wiring issues and most recently a flat rear tire! With the tire fixed, I spent a goodly amount of time getting the electrical straightened-out and the tractor runs again! Fine machine too. It is a 1962 year make and so am I. Not sure which of us is in better or worse condition...
A bit of trivia. If you look at the hood ornament, you will see three triangles. One with a tractor in it and the other two with "M" and "F" respectively. Harry Ferguson invented the 3 point hitch that is standard equipment on all tractors today. Other manufacturers tried their hitch arrangements, International Harvester had a 2-point Fast Hitch, Allis Chalmers had a some kind of upside down 3-point hitch - I forget the name of it. Case had their Eagle hitch. The Ferguson System, as it was called, eventually won out (with help from Ford) and is the standard today. The three triangles in the MF logo represent the 3-point hitch.
I'm continuing to pull Autumn Olives on the "10" in preparation for a Summer Teff grass field. I'll start fertilizing the timothy fields in a week or two. Fertilizer is generally referred by NPK - Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Pot Ash. The amount of fertilizer we put down is driven by expected yields coupled with soil sample analysis' by Virginia Tech. Typically P and K are put down in the fall. N goes down in the spring and after each cutting.
On another note...
I was contacted by a gentleman who raises Alpacas. I really don't know much about them. We've been totally focused on making horse quality square bales of hay. Higher quality hay raised specifically with the horse in mind has been our niche and for those horse owners that recognize it, it is nice to work with folks that know and value REAL hay quality backed-up by forage testing from Equi-Analytical vs. some Craigslist "horse quality hay" labeled ad. I'm finding that Alpaca owners have special needs/requirements for their hay too. We are not a big farm; my hands touch just about every square bale of hay and sometimes three or four times over. Being smaller allows us agility and a certain attention to what we grow that might be more difficult for a BTO farm. As such, we can pivot and produce focused/quality hay for a special need. I'm interested in investigating a bit of hay for Alpacas. In the photos above, there was some very nice green timothy growing. There were also a lot of brown areas. Until we planted the timothy, everything was brown. Anywhere on this farm we can safely put a tractor, we are going to raise quality hay - but it takes time to develop/reclaim these fields. As we do, we will continue to expand our timothy and teff, and to the extent there is Alpaca interest, we'll peal off some acreage for Alpaca specific hay. If you know someone with Alpacas that needs quality hay, ask them to shoot me an e-mail at FirstQualityHay@icloud.com - I've got questions. For those of you interested in our timothy and teff - it's on the way!!!!
Seems like the older I get, the faster time flies. The race for first cutting hay has already begun. January is at an end, February is a short month and March 1st we start fertilizing. It's after midnight; I ought to be in bed! Between now and that first cut, I'll be clearing a new field which will see a very early cut of mixed grass from what's already there and then planted in teff grass for the summer. I may clear another smaller field for teff grass too - if I can find the time. We'll hit our fields with a non-residual herbicide to control broadleaf weeds in early April and spray for cereal rust mites, which can devastate a timothy field. Hopefully we will take a first cut of timothy and timothy mixed hay Memorial Day weekend. Samples will be taken as the hay is baled and forwarded to Equi-Analytical for forage testing to establish the quality of the hay prior to sale. Between now and Memorial day, I've got some hay shelters to move and probably will erect a new one. I've added a kicker to my baler and will be building/installing kicker racks to my wagons. Three wagons need new beds, so I'll be doing that too. Need to put up a few gates and do some mechanical repairs to a couple of ancient tractors to get them field ready in time for haying. Lots to do, not much time; the clock is ticking!
I said all of that to say this - last fall we sold out of hay early. I have been receiving steady requests for hay throughout the winter. IMHO - there is a shortage in our area of decent hay, which I believe may exacerbate the situation for this coming Summer/Fall due to depleted inventories. These things go in cycles. If you are interested in hay for 2018, you might consider buying earlier vs. later. As our hay season unfolds for 2018, we will post updates as to our timeline and progress towards making quality square bales of hay. I would especially encourage following our Facebook page for alerts. Feel free to share this webpage and our Facebook page with anyone you know that might need quality hay come next spring/summer/fall. It will be here sooner than later!
On the other hand, May the Hay Dog doesn't seem to be to alarmed...
At the Jamison Family Farm, every field has a name and almost all of them predate me as my great grandfather started this farm. There is the upper field, lower field, bull pasture, crown hill, salt peter field, the "10" and others. Over the years, the farm has raised cattle, a few hogs, chickens and some very loud guineas. In my great grandfather's day, he also raised grain and some sheep; chestnut trees were everywhere. There is also an apple orchard and a nice garden spot. Potts Creek runs along one side of the farm. It's cold outside as I write this blog, around 9 degrees F. When I was a boy, there were a few times the creek would freeze solid and I'd use an axe to chop a hole/path in the ice so the cattle could get a drink - I thought it kind of exciting. We always fed square bales. When feeding, we used a tractor and a hay wagon in tow. To keep the cattle from bedding in the hay and ruining it, one had to spread it out thinly such that it made a good meal, but a lousy bed. I can remember times feeding hay by myself, loading the wagon, pulling it into the field, setting the tractor in low range, 1st gear (a crawl), hopping off the tractor and onto the wagon to feed out the hay while it was in motion. If the tractor veered off course, I'd jump off the wagon, back on the tractor, correct the course and back on the wagon - all the time, noting the position of the bull relative to my body. I was more fearful of that bull than any tractor. It was mandatory to collect all the twine and a lot of fence posts had twine necklaces after winter's feeding...
The farm is divided by Route 18, now called Potts Creek Road. My grandfather admonished us grandchildren, "Never buy a farm with a highway going through it." Every fall and spring, we would move the cattle from one side of the road to the other. "Over the hill" was where the cattle spent the summer and "below the road" was where they were wintered and fed. We had these road signs, "CATTLE CROSSING", and when it was time to move the cattle from one side of the road to the other, us kids would stand out in the road with those signs stopping traffic. I thought it was pretty cool, however, it seemed one cow always resisted and would take off parallel with road (refusing to cross it), heading northeast to Covington or southwest towards Paint Bank. We could stop a fully loaded tractor trailer with those cattle crossing signs, but the wayward cow would motor on by and the chase was on... I'm glad it's all hay now.
While I have my farm memories, I am certain my children will have theirs too as they are immersed in making First Quality Hay.
More blog posts to come throughout the New Year - stay tuned!