Confluence Chronicles – Where City & County Meet 3-8-10
Farmers and ranchers are empathetic people. When others in production agriculture have difficulties, we feel sad for them. Sometimes we can help, but most of the time we can only watch, wait and pray along with them.
We’ve had snow on the ground since October and we are tired of it and the ice underneath. But we haven’t had blizzards or miles of power poles snapped off leaving us without power. We didn’t lose the capability to get feed and water to our cattle; ranchers who live just a few counties away from us have suffered all of these calamities this winter. We can only hope they will get better conditions and be able to get ready for calving and lambing seasons – and have bang up crops from both.
There probably isn’t a more helpless feeling in the world than knowing your livestock need tending and you can’t get to them. It is when you know that even if you tried, the wind and snow are so bad that you couldn’t see to get anywhere. You feel guilty for being tied to the house and warm and fed while your animals aren’t. It is just plain hard.
2009 was a tough one for many crop farmers too. There are still hundreds of acres of corn standing in fields, corn that couldn’t be harvested due to wet conditions, rain and then snow. The fields were saturated before winter came and it doesn’t look any better now in March. The farmers may be discouraged in the dark days of winter but with the sunshine and longer days, things begin to look up.
Beet growers got caught in the early, cold fall too, with hundreds of acres of sugar beets frozen in the ground. A lost crop represents the seed, fertilizer and water expenses, in addition to planting and the other field work put in to produce a crop. The money expended for labor and fuel, the machinery use and the time involved, all of it used with no return from the crop. Beets in the ground will complicate spring planting. But plan they will and around they will go again.
It’s a good thing those of us in agriculture have the “next year” mentality, as we say “next year” will surely be better. One thing these hardships teach us is to treasure the good years and be brave enough to try and ride out the bumpy years.
As we grew weary of the snow I decided I’d see each flake, not as snow, but as one more blade of green grass. After all we are just coming off of a nine-year drought and we are most aware how quickly that life-giving moisture can disappear and remain elusive. That is another thing agricultural producers have in common – optimism.
In addition to being a columnist, Peggy is the author of five historical photo books which can be seen at http://www.PeggySanders.com. She researches history, serves on the Fall River County Historical Society Board and is a South Dakota State Historical Society Trustee.