Friday, March 10, 2017

Mother Nature Be Kind

You probably know that the food on your table and the clothes on your back are provided by farmers but did you know the hardships the farmer endures trying to make a living so they can put food on their table and clothes on their family's backs?
Crop farming is the only profession that you work all year and only get paid once a year. Sometimes we can plant wheat which is ready to harvest in the summer season as well which would allow a second paycheck for the year. 
Crop farming is one of the few professions in which your production is solely dependent on the weather and the stock market.  Two conditions that can't be controlled. 
There have been times when we are desperately trying to plant crops by the second week of June because of torrential rains or a late winter season where the temperature is just too cold to put seed in the ground.  We've had to replant on occasion when it was either to muddy or cold and the seed sat dormant, rotting in the ground.  Just because we get the seed in the ground doesn't mean it's smooth sailing.  Some years it was so wet in the spring and early summer it was a struggle to get the fertilizer spread over the emerging seedlings.  Fertilizer on the beans and corn equates to making a productive yield.  Herbicides have to be sprayed once or twice during the summer while they are growing or else the crop will be strangled out by weeds which is another concern.  Last year we had a complete drought during the summer.  Everyday was an agony around the farm as we waited, hoped and prayed for rain so that our crops wouldn't completely die.  Everyday we watched as our fields of beans and corn stayed short, sparse, corn leaves rolled up, turned yellow. They seemed to be crying out as we stood helpless.  Driving down the road was torture, trying not to look at our hundreds of acres and life savings wither up.  Once we got the rain it was too late for most of the plants and then it just slowed down harvest.  Some years it's too much rain while the crop is growing which can cause stunted growth, mold, weed and insect issues. 
Harvest time is always stressful as you hold your breath hoping for decent weather so you can get the crops harvest and good yields  so that you can pay the creditors that are waiting for their once a year payment.  Praying for a little left over to live a little.  I would say one in every ten years is a great year when there is a bumper crop and the prices are uncommonly high. 
I can say that we have endured some difficult times which would have collapsed most people but we just pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and keep going.  It's the love of tilling the soil, it's harvesting the golden corn, it's walking through a field of lush green soybeans that reach to your armpits, it's the rippling wave of yellow wheat, it's reaping the fruits of your hard labor, it's the pride of following in the footsteps of your parents and grandparents, it's watching your children work side by side with you and pride as they tell their friends that they can't go to the movies because they have to help plant, it's the morning sun rising over the fields that you planted and it's watching the sun set while you sit in the cab of the tractor.
Crop farmers put all their faith and livelihood in Mother Nature's Hands.  She wasn't good to us this year.  It has been a rough and extremely stressful year.  We are tired and spring season is just looming ahead.  I am hoping that Mother Nature will spare us this year and allow us to have one of those rare years where weather is perfect, crops grow strong, and prices are up. 


  1. Hats off to you and your strength. Your story reminds me of my Nebraska farmer friend, Diana. She said on a good year they all got to go to town for a soft serve Dairy Queen to celebrate. On a banner year they got new shoes.

  2. I just can't imagine the stress of this every year. People tell me often that they can't imagine teaching kindergarten. They would go crazy and couldn't handle the stress of it. I feel that way about the farmers. I can't imagine the hard, physical work, the dependence on Mother Nature, and the stress of not knowing if your hard work will yield a paycheck or not. I am thankful for the farmers who do this hard work each day! (And to think you do this work after you've been at school all day...that's pretty amazing!)

  3. The way you described the "It's the..." section of this piece sounded like a poem. I felt like I was touching the soybeans and watching the sun kiss the plants as you told of the reasons to keep going. It's always about what we do in those moments of stress and hardship that matters the most. Pulling yourself up over and over again may not grow the crop to the sky but it certainly is what gives it a chance. I hope you are rewarded this year for that perseverance.

  4. This is such a beautiful piece of writing! Thank you for letting us into the life of a crop farmer! I read it and first wonder why anyone would ever choose this life! And then I read again the parts about how much you love it. Wishing you a great year!