Cozad, Nebraska is rumored to be the “alfalfa capitol of the world”. Our school mascot is “the Haymakers”. As our name demonstrates, we are a rural farming community.
My husband is a Haymaker through and through. Not only did he play football on this field and set records on this track, but he is a “professional haymaker” on our farm.
So, outside of being Cozad’s team mascot, what exactly is a Haymaker?
In farming language, hay can mean many things…In my husband’s vocabulary, hay means alfalfa and a haymaker is an alfalfa farmer. Alfalfa is a perennial legume plant that can be harvested for 5-8 years after planting. It is a high protein forage (17-19%), and has an excellent amino acid profile. In other words, alfalfa provides the essential amino acids that animals require, but can not synthesize on their own. It also has a high level of soluble fiber which is important for animal digestive health.
Because it is a legume, alfalfa takes the nitrogen out of the air and makes it available to the plant so that no nitrogen fertilizer is necessary for its growth. When the alfalfa dies, it also leaves residual nitrogen in the soil which helps to fertilize the next crop. My husband starts harvesting mature alfalfa about the 1st of May and hopes to get four cuttings (harvests) of the plant during the growing season which ends in October.
While I feed some of Matt’s alfalfa (in the form of big bales instead of pellets) at the feed yard, much of what he grows and dehydrates is shipped to feed animals all over the world. From cattle to chickens to horses to gerbils to zoo animals—alfalfa is a great animal feed.My haymaker has traded his football and track shoes for work boots, and has become a true alfalfa farmer…
Our girls are loyal Cozad Haymakers and have their eyes locked on one day holding their own track records—Matt and I hope that one of them will also set their sights on transitioning from a Cozad Haymaker to an alfalfa farmer to continue our family tradition…