The temperature was flirting with the freezing mark and the wind was howling when some 354 4-H and FFA members showed up at Charlie and Kelly Carter's farm in Boone County for an invitational dairy judging contest on March 16. The contest is sponsored annually by the Western Boone FFA chapter.
The irony is that one year earlier on that date the temperature was flirting with the 80s and people were either planting corn, or itching to plant corn. Most people said at the time there would be a payback for that early good weather, and there certainly was – a drought.
The Carters' don't mind the weather so much, but hope it warms up some to get some pasture growing. They utilize intensive rotational grazing for their herd of 100 cows. Typically, once the grazing season begins, they move cows twice per day. "Each system has its advantages and disadvantages, but it works well for us," Carter says. "We hold our costs down. It just takes a different type of management. You have to be thinking a couple months down the road to know where you're going for forage."
More days for the Western Boone Invitational have been like this year than last year, notes Glenn Jones, longtime ag teacher at North Miami high school. He will retire at the end of the school year.
"One year we came here and the snow was blowing sideways," he recalls. "We still judged cows but the kids sought shelter along the barn to stay out of the elements. It became more of a contest of endurance than anything else."
Enough with the snow already, but no one seems to be complaining that it's not 80 degrees yet either. Most remember that the scenario that delivered those early prize days didn't turn out so well.