Rain delays hay harvest

Hard to make hay unless sun shines


LACONIA -- The proverb says, “Make hay while the sun shines,” but the problem is the sun hasn’t been shining. Over the last six weeks, there have been only three, three-day periods without rain, making it very hard for farmers to cut and bail their hay.

A 72-hour period without rain is generally needed to allow cut hay to cure properly for bailing. A bail of wet hay tends to get moldy and becomes unsuitable for animal feed.

Jeff Keyser, who manages Ramblin' Vewe Farm in the rolling hills of Gilford, said two dry days will sometimes suffice, but even that has been hard to come by this year.

“We're lucky if we get one day of decent weather,” he said Friday as dark clouds loomed over a 5-acre field that hasn't been cut this year.

Heavy rains also leave muddy fields that are difficult for farm machines.

“The problem is the ground is so wet, it's tough to get on a piece without rutting it up,” Keyser said. “I'm not getting enough dry time between stretches of rain and the fields are soaking wet.”

He normally does his first cut in early June and a second one later in the summer. Keyser has been able to cut hay on some of the fields he manages, and he's waiting to do it on others.

“Tuesday, I went to Barnstead and it's amazing the hay that hasn't been mowed down there,” said Keyser, who manages a farm placed into a trust by businessman Dick Persons.

Margaret Curtis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, in Gray, Maine, said that over the last six weeks, there have been only three, 72-hour periods without rain as measured at Lakeport in Laconia.

Concord has seen 24.93 inches of rain so far this year, or 4.09 inches above normal. A monitoring station in Laconia has recorded 27.13 inches of rain year to date, also about 4 inches above average.

Carl Majewski, a food and agriculture specialist with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, said wet weather has slowed the hay harvest statewide. It’s not just the higher-than-normal rainfall totals, but the fact that rain has been so frequent that farmers don’t have the sustained dry weather they needed for haying.

The wet conditions are more than just an inconvenience.

“The longer you let that grass grow, the less nutritious it becomes,” he said. “Dairy farmers look for hay with a high nutritional value. It takes a lot of energy to support milk production.

“Anything not mowed yet becomes coarse and fibrous, and won't have the same nutritional value as hay harvested earlier.”

On the positive side, once a farmer manages to cut his hay, the second crop tends to grow quickly in moist conditions.

Majewski said that despite the rain delays in the hay season, there should still be time for farmers to do two harvests this year.

The wet conditions are quite a turnaround from last year when the state was hit by a drought. The dry conditions made it easy to cut the hay, but limited growth of the crop.

A total of 53,000 acres of hay were harvested in New Hampshire last year, with a total value of $20 million, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics.

  • Written by Rick Green
  • Category: Local News
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Snowmobile association gets new executive director

NH Snowmobile Association gets new executive director



TILTON — The new executive director of N.H. Snowmobile Association comes to the job with a strong technology background and is anxious to tackle a rebuilding of the organization’s website, but said maintaining programs and events will remain a priority.

Dan Gould, who came on board July 1, has been in the newspaper business for 35 years, serving as staff photographer for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for more than 20 years before moving into a management role as multimedia editor and chief photographer for the last 10 years.

He also served two years as vice-president and 14 years as president of the Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts, where he was editor of its print publication and served as webmaster for 10 years.

Gould is filling the vacancy created by the resignation last spring of Monica Pettengill Jenkins.

“I’ve known a lot of the members of the N.H. Snowmobile Association for years, and they’ve known me, so they asked to interview for the job,” he said.

“There’s a lot of projects I want to tackle going forward, but we need to strategize on what projects to get done. Rebuilding a website is a large project to undertake, but I was heavily involved with the web team at the Telegram & Gazette, and can use my expertise wherever it’s needed.”

He said funding is always a challenge for nonprofit organizations, but the association and its member clubs are well-organized and have a number of events during the year to raise money, not just for themselves but for local charities. The Ride-In for easterseals is a longstanding event that snowmobilers have participated in.

In announcing his move to the Massachusetts association, he described coming to New Hampshire as landing his dream job, allowing him “to move within a pinecone toss of the White Mountains.”

He wrote, “The crew at the New Hampshire Snowmobile Association are exceptional, and just as excited as I am. We speak the same language and aim at the same target. They have big plans for the future and so do I.”

07-14 NHSA

Dan Gould, new executive director of the NH Snowmobile Association, took part in a snowmobile expedition in the Ural Mountains of Russia last year.


  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Local News
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Sweetair also in picture in District 9 GOP race

Sweetsir comments on Dist. 9 race



ASHLAND — Tim Sweetsir, a Republican candidate for the open seat as representative for Grafton County Dist. 9, was unavailable for comment when the Laconia Daily Sun was preparing an article about the July 18 special primary election. He later sent an email providing his assessment of the election.

“The race is going as well as can be expected,” he wrote. “I will tell you, win or lose, this has been a rewarding experience for me.

“I have one simple message: This is not about the representative, this is about the people he represents, as it should be. So previous time in the house is not a benefit or doesn't make any one candidate any better if the message from the people of the district is not heard.

“What matters here is what do the people of the district want and expect. Should I win this primary, I plan to meet the people of our district and take the concerns they have to Concord.

“So the ‘slogan,’ as some have called it, is not a slogan, but it is representation of all the people of the district. When I stated that I do not care what political party anyone is in, I meant it. It's not about a party, but the people who make up all the parties. The country is too divided as it is.

“I look forward to the primary and beyond.”


  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Local News
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