Farmer Focus: Left unsatisfied by Californian winter

Out in California we have been in a drought for four years, so we welcomed winter with open arms.

We had a couple of weeks of heavy downpours but that seems to have passed already.

Many of my non-farming friends seem to be satisfied with our so-called winter. However, I’m not as I know that if it has already stopped raining by February it is going to be a dreadful summer with limited water and pastures.

But for now, the sun is bouncing off the dark green, lush fields. Our heifers and cows are spending their days out on the pastures, while chickens graze from sun up till sun down.

We do save money at this time of year as our animals consume much of their diet from the land.

Our organic milk cows are currently on a 20% pasture ration. Their TMR diet is limited and they enjoy foraging for their feed. Most of my neighbors have their cows turned out as well.

See also: After drought California gets set for winter

Dry weather is also a good time to get things cleaned up and get back to the list of projects.

We are building a new hay storage barn. In the next week we will begin by cutting the pad level and cementing the wall for the perimeter of the structure.

In about a months’ time, a construction crew will come in and set up the 10,000sq ft structure in about four days. Normally we wouldn’t get to these sort of projects until June.

My laying hens are also enjoying the abundance of pasture. In about two more weeks, I’ll be up and running with my own egg label and officially no longer connected to any corporation.

See also: Read more from the livestock farmer focus writers

My hens are laying great with this sunshine and we are gearing up to go to the shelf.

We produce about 30 cases of eggs a day. I’m very nervous, but also well prepared. I’ve aligned myself with the best egg distributors in northern California and feel confident that we will form a great working partnership.

With beautiful weather comes lack of rain, full milk tanks and egg baskets.

Farmers are always nervous of the weather and prices, but we keep smiling and enjoy what is coming our way.

Jessica McIsaac milks 350 pedigree Holsteins in Petaluma, California, with her husband Neil. They sell organic milk and have 6,000 laying hens.