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What we can learn from trees

Progressive Dairyman Editor Emily Gwin Published on 20 October 2017
Jean Lake in Alaska

My husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary at the end of September by going for a swim at our friends’ quarry lake. It hit 91ºF that day, tying a record set in 1936.

Despite the July-like weather, the leaves on the trees were still changing colors and starting to shed, carrying on their job in changing seasons as if they were oblivious to the fact the weather was still hanging on to summer.

This phenomenon had my husband and I wondering how the tress somehow still knew it was time to start getting ready for winter.

In case you’ve forgotten what you learned in your elementary science classes, like we had, I’ll refresh your memory. Leaves from deciduous trees contain pigments of red, yellow, orange and purple but, in the spring and summer, the chlorophyll in the leaves produces enough of the green color to cover up the other pigments.

As the days get shorter and the trees receive less sunlight, chlorophyll production reduces, allowing those pretty fall colors to start peeking through. But, as we all know, those colors don’t last long. Since chlorophyll is what gives the trees energy and less is produced as the weather starts to cool down – particularly at night – the trees shed their leaves in order to store up energy. This helps them survive the winter months.

So even though my husband and I hadn’t noticed a dramatic change in temperature and were marveling at swimming outside so close to October, the trees were still getting their signals from less sunlight and knew it was time to start preparing for colder and darker days ahead.

As humans, we don’t need to shed leaves, but I’m guessing the changing of the seasons still signals to each of you something that needs to be done in preparation for winter. Perhaps it’s figuring out a diet for close-up dry cows. The article (Partial DCAD: an easier path to pre-fresh DCAD success) presents a way to ease into a dietary cation-anion difference ration with partial dietary cation-anion difference.

Or maybe your fall to-do list includes improving your herd’s reproduction program with higher conception rates. The 10 strategies found (10 strategies to maximize conception rate) may serve as a starting point.

Creating or updating your farm’s emergency plan may be top-of-mind for some of you. The online tool highlighted (Use Farm MAPPER to assist, protect, prepare emergency responders) allows you to create a birds-eye view map of your farm and point out areas such as chemical storage, water sources and potential air lift areas.

This vital information can then be shared with your local fire department.

However you choose to spend your autumn weeks on the dairy, I hope you find some useful ideas in this issue. And if you’re lucky enough to live in an area with fall foliage, be sure to take a few moments to appreciate the views. It just may get you through the quiescent, leafless days that are coming.  end mark

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