MALTA, Mont. – Some nice rain has fallen at the Merriman’s 4M Farms, providing a nice seedbed for the upcoming winter wheat crop.
“We received some 2.6 inches of rain in the past two weeks and have been doing some residue management,” said Cliff, who farms with his wife, Anna, and kids, Beau and Courtney.
In addition, the temperatures have cooled down into the 70s, and coupled with the rain showers, it has been a nice reprieve from the earlier hot weather.
“It was nice rain that all went in the ground. We didn’t have any runoff,” he said.
Cliff said they are waiting for the weeds to come up before working the ground for a final time.
“We’re waiting for it to green up, and then we will hit it with our pre-till and then we’ll seed winter wheat,” he said.
Their crop service will let them know what winter wheat seed will be available when it is time to plant.
In addition to preparing their fields for winter wheat planting, the Merrimans have been installing electric fence for their cattle grazing management program.
“We have been putting in 10 miles of permanent electric fence in the second year of our Conservation Stewardship Program,” he said, adding they use solar power to operate the fence. “In the past, we have used temporary electric fencing to manage our grazing.”
Cliff explained that they were creating grazing cells with the fence for their intensive grazing management program. They run the electric fence down farm strips to form the cells.
“With some of the 200-300-acre fields, we made them into three cells by dividing them into thirds, and made it in the shape of a wagon wheel,” he said.
When it is finished, they will be able to move cattle frequently from one cell to the next, and intensively graze the grass, which benefits both the cattle and the grass.
“This way we can more intensively manage our cover crop and fall crop aftermath grazing,” Cliff said.
With the pigs, they plan to put the boar in with the sow soon. The batch of piglets will be 4-H pigs for the 4-H youth in the area to raise for next year’s county fair.
Meanwhile, the kids have started school in Malta.
“The kids started school Wednesday (Aug. 25), and next week will be a full week so I am sure they will have homework and everything else,” Anna said. “They are excited about school. It is the first time they have attended school in nearly a year because they were homeschooled all year.”