RAPLEJE, Mont. – Cali and Tyler Rooney really couldn’t have asked for any better weather. As true agriculturalists, they have sworn to never curse storms when they produce moisture, but with their spring cover crops safely planted and their rangeland needing a final blast of moisture, the last few days of rain that have blanketed much of Montana are seen as a blessing by the Rooneys.
“It’s just drizzling out and slowly settling in,” Cali said contently during a phone call on May 24.
On May 20, a severe thunderstorm quickly and violently turned into a hailstorm, which swept through northern Stillwater and Golden Valley counties. Hail the size of tennis balls was reported. Although the hail hit all around their operation, somehow the worst of it managed to miss the Rooneys. They got high winds, some thunder and lightning, and intense rainfall, but thankfully, the worst of the storm missed them.
That’s the thing about spring storms in Montana, their paths are unpredictable and it is best to just be thankful if the worst of them jets off in another direction.
The only downside to massive, moisture laden weather fronts is the fact outside work becomes nearly impossible. Cali took the opportunity to catch up on bookwork for the ranch, but even she admits there is lots still to do out on the ranch.
At times like this, when Cali feels a little overwhelmed, she likes to think of a little family advice.
“My mom always tells me one of Grandpa Tommy’s favorite sayings was ‘just done one thing every day,’” she said.
Spring is a busy time of year, but when things start to feel a little hectic, Cali and Tyler just take a deep breath and take Grandpa Tommy’s advice. No matter what, the farm must go on, even if it is little bit by little bit.
Next on the to-do list for the Rooneys will be planting their warm season cover crops once the soil warms up. They are planning on planting a mono-crop of millet, another mono-crop of sorghum-sudangrass and then one field will be planted into a custom cover crop mix that consists of sorghum-sudangrass, millet, mung beans, peas and a little sprinkling of sunflowers.
“The purpose of this cover crop mix is for grazing and soil building,” she explained.
Cali and Tyler are always tinkering with what to plant. They want varieties that are good for the soil but also very palatable and nutrient-dense for the cattle. They have found that crops like millet and sorghum-sudangrass stay green and soft later on into the fall and the cattle just love it because it is a welcome treat for them once they are pulled off the drying rangeland grasses.
Cali and Tyler take range health and soil regeneration very seriously. The couple turns their cattle out on rangeland early in the spring, but they are pulled in later in the summer and put onto the planted fields. The Rooneys believe, first and foremost, they are stewards of the land, just like the generations before them.
“Rangeland management and conservation is something my family has always done and that’s something Tyler and I want to do, too,” she said.
Also on the agenda to get done once the rain stops is to brand and turn out the last bunch of pairs. Of course there are some fencing projects that need attended to, as well. The Rooney’s will be placing CIDRS into their heifers on June 6, which will be the first step in the AI’ing process.
The Rooney’s are never lacking things to do, but sometimes it is quite alright to sit back and enjoy the blessings of a good hard rain.