BELVIEW, Minn. – In recent years, Cody Nelson described wintertime feeding as ‘easy,’ but that wasn’t the case for February or the beginning of March 2019.
Previous winters, he started the tractor and hauled hay bales out to the cows in the Minnesota River bottom every one to two weeks. This year, he’s starting the tractor every two or three days to move snow, and he’s hauling bales to the cows as long as he’s at it.
With a 2-foot snowpack, the sides of the driveway were about 3 feet tall as of March 5. That was enough snow that – with any wind – he had to clear the driveway out.
“We’ve spent more money on diesel fuel this year then we probably spent in the last four years combined,” Cody said, “but that’s part of living in Minnesota.”
Cody wanted to give a shout-out to his neighbor Nick Lecy that cleaned out the driveway and yard when he was gone.
After very cold temperatures earlier in the winter, the cows were handling zero degrees quite well in early March. Hay intake dropped from what it had been. The cows were sunning themselves a lot, which was helping to reduce feed intake.
Calving was set to start in late April. Cody waited until July to breed cattle last year after the region had two large snowstorms in early and mid-April 2018.
“A lot of people like to calve right now, which I still haven’t figured that one out yet, but that’s just what we’ve always done,” he said. “That’s kind of the issue with farming – our mindset is our biggest issue. It’s hard to change what we’ve always done, even if it’s something better.”
Since starting his own business, Soil RX Inc., earlier this year, Cody has been traveling around talking about cover crops and getting clients for the growing season.
“People are really figuring out that they do need to do something different and it’s more of a risk to try cover crops without hiring a little bit of help to make sure it’s done properly,” he said.
He attended Soil Health Café Chats hosted by the Sustainable Farming Association, with good crowds in Marshall, Renville, Montevideo and Wood Lake. He also made his way up to Detroit Lakes for the Becker County Soil Health Day on March 7.
Back at Bar N Cattle Company, Melanie Nelson and the children, Amelia, Coy and Jace stayed busy getting to work and school through the winter weather.
Cody and Amelia drove to the March 3 Minnesota State Shorthorn Sale in Cannon Falls.
“There were some good spots and some soft spots throughout the sale,” said Cody. “There was definitely a downside in that market, but I think it had a lot to do with the winter. Nobody’s got any extra hay and the last thing they want to do is bring any more cattle home to feed.
“The good ones sold really well, still sold well.”