Farmer Focus: Relief as the rain arrives in California

I find myself fireside this Sunday afternoon ducking in from the rain. Yes, it is raining, actually poring, and has been for a week straight.

Last month I was hopeful for more rain, and we sure received it here in northern California.

The past four years have been hard, a struggle really to sustain our farms on the dry land.

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This year it seems we are above average for rain fall and it is still coming. Our farm is an organic dairy business and we have pasture laying hens, so we really depend on the rain.

Our dairy cows got to spend about two weeks outside grazing our lush fields of rye grass and clover before returning to the barns.

In the US, being an organic dairy means all animals older than six months must graze for 120 days each grazing season, consuming not less than 30% of their ration from grass. On our farm, and most of the farms in our area, where we don’t irrigate and only dry land farm, it can be a real challenge to obtain enough quality pasture to meet the organic standards.

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So it’s a breath of fresh air to see the rain coming down. It is especially good this year, as the rain has been coming in spells and the cows have time to get out in between to start grazing.

Our pasture hens are housed in mobile coops that continuously stay on pasture. These girls also enjoy the breaks in the rain, when they can get out and scratch, dust and enjoy the lush fields.

There is also a lot more going on these days than the rain. We began processing our own eggs.

There are still many more details to work through, but things seem to be going well. We are using a co-packer to process our eggs and a distribution company for sales. We have started with both a 12- and six-pack carton and will be adding other brands as we go to use all of our production.

It may be raining today, but the days are bright when we are working together as a family, doing what we love and building our future.

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