No Hay Today

The NWS forecast calls for thunderstorms in this area today, with strong chances for additional thunderstorm activity later in the week.  So it doesn’t look like we will see any activity on the hay production front for the next several days. 

Meanwhile, the timing of the abundant rain we have experienced this Spring seems to have suited the black walnut trees just fine.  The walnuts are nearing golf ball size, and unlike last year, our productive trees appear to be prolific this year.

Hmmm…. it just occurred to me that I neglected to post anything about last year’s black walnut harvest.  In fact, I had not even reported the results of the 2006 harvest.  Well, better late then never, so here goes.

You may recall that in 2006, our friend Jasper was Hoping to Top His Previous Record Harvest, which stood at about 400,000 walnuts.  He ended up having a great year, but fell just a little short of his previous record.

In 2007, outside of one or two consistently outstanding producers, most of our black walnut trees were barren.  Even with all the farms Jasper includes in his rounds, he could not even locate enough walnuts to make up one full truck load.  So 2007 was a bust, but from the looks of our trees, 2008 should be a very productive year.

When the time comes to bale the hay, I’ll post some photographs of this year’s harvest.

So What’s Hal Up To Now?

It’s June, so he’s up to his neck in fescue – that’s what!

Once again, the season for hay production is upon us.  As you can see from the photograph above, the fescue/clover fields are ready for baling.  The grass is tall and rich with nutrients, and weeds haven’t had much of a chance to develop within the fields. 

This part of the Ozarks has seen abundant rain this Spring (at least 10″ ABOVE average), and the temperature has remained relatively mild.  It has been ideal conditions for the tall fescue that dominates our region.

For the past several years I have taken pains to get several additional pastures groomed and readied for hay production, in addition to our regular hay fields.  They now appear to be ready for harvest.

We have a couple of reliable and ambitious neighbors who are motivated to do the cutting and baling.  The price of all cattle feed matter (hays, grains, protein supplements, etc.) has risen dramatically in recent months, so they would like to utilize as much of our grass as possible.

Thus, my hopes are high that all of these factors will combine to make this year a banner year for hay production on this property.


The skies that looked like this at 12:40 PM

And then look like this at 1:15 PM

Turn into a downpour like this!  Then all bets are off…

A Nice Way to Kill Some Time

Cliff House Inn and Restaurant

A few day ago Retta and I had to leave her vehicle at the local Ford dealer for some maintenance, which was going to take a few hours for the dealership to complete.  We decided to kill the time by sightseeing in our local area, which took us south along Arkansas Scenic Byway 7, which is always a lovely and picturesque drive.

Because we hadn’t eaten anything prior to leaving the house, we thought it would be a fine idea to partake of breakfast at the Cliff House Inn, a well-known (among locals) diner located in a spectacular location along the scenic route. 

Cozy balcony overlooking the canyon

Besides good food at a fair price, the main draw of the Cliff House Inn is the view that can be seen from the dining room and from the casual balcony, shown in the photograph above.

Why travel all the way to Arizona?

The Cliff House Inn overlooks a scenic canyon, which, according to the sign above, is the deepest canyon in the Ozarks.

Wonderful view from Cliff House Inn balcony

While this canyon certainly cannot compete with the Grand Canyon in scope and drama, it is still a beautiful and very delightful sight to view while savoring a meal at the Inn.  In the photograph above, you can see the view from the balcony on a day when a typical Ozarks fog bank filled the canyon.  By the time we had finished our breakfast, the fog had dissipated, offering a clear view of the surrounding hills and valleys (hollers, as they’re known around here).

Large geode for sale at Mystic Cavern gift shop

After breakfast at the Cliffhouse Inn we traveled back toward town.  Northern Arkansas is home to over 4700 identified caves, owing to the Swiss cheese-like geology of the schist formations that form the Ozarks.  Along the way we passed one of these caves, Mystic Cavern, which operates daily guided cave tours, and so we elected to kill some more time by taking a cavern tour.  As we waited for the guided tour to begin, we browsed the gift and rock shop on the premises, where we saw this amazingly large amethyst geode from Brazil (asking price – $2700).

Formations inside Mystic Cavern

Inside Mystic Cavern you can see all of the various types of cave formations you would expect to see in such an environment.  It was well worth the time and minor effort involved for us to see this cavern.

Between breakfast at the Cliff House Inn and a tour of Mystic Cavern, we thought it was time to start heading back to town, but not without one more quick stop along the way.

Stopover at Buffalo National Scenic River

We would be crossing a section of the Buffalo National River, a scenic waterway administered by the U.S. National Park Service as the first U.S. National River.  The Buffalo River is a superb and popular river for float trips.  Besides the solitude and seclusion the river offers, the main draw is the pristine beauty of the crystal clear water gently flowing along cliffs and rock embankments like the one shown in the photograph above.  When the water is calm, it is hard to tell where the water begins and the rock ends.  We wouldn’t think of driving by the Buffalo River without stopping to take a look, which is exactly what we did before returning to town to pick up Retta’s vehicle from the dealership.

It is a very nice feeling knowing that we can enjoy such a wonderful and scenic day by just driving around the very area we choose to make our home.