It has finally come and gone. The long awaited day, the very object of our dreams, the goal has arrived for those in drought ravaged southern Kansas and the flooded parts of Nebraska and Iowa and beyond. What day am I speaking of, you ask? It's Christmas, or better yet the end of a long wearisome year. If this was a piece of music the word 'fine' would be in small letters on the calendar signifying the end or as one of my brothers likes to put it, "We finally wore it out."
It started as consequence of a particularly hard fall years back. It seemed that every day another big problem arose. We'd have to figure out how to get a loaded grain cart out of the mud when it had already sunk to its frame. The next day would lead to having to take the duals off of a tractor to clean the mud from between the wheels. Every day was a challenge and my older sibling answered my whiny question about when this is ever going to end by saying, "We're just going to have to wear the year out. Someday we'll wake up and it'll be Christmas and this will finally be behind us.
Well, it's Christmastime and 2011 is behind us and none too soon. It has been a Charles Dickens year in farming - It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I've talked to farmers from both states who expressed frustration at watching most all of American agriculture enjoying the best of times while others are, or were, hoping for the best from crop insurance companies to give legs to their hope that there indeed will be a next year for them.
The drought continues in Kansas. For those farmers, the drought isn't over, but there might be a bit of a respite while they wait for the hope of next year. Optimism reigns supreme if you're a farmer. As I type this, maybe the snow that is falling in Kansas will start the winter wheat crop.
Without being optimistic and having faith, farmers would be fairly reticent to hide several hundred dollars worth of inputs in the soil on each acre, each spring, without being sent to the loony bin.
We know the plants will spring from the ground in straight, neat little rows. They always have. It's simply too much work to believe otherwise.
The flood is the other story and I'll be the first to admit that I've avoided much mention of what has been the elephant in the room for us. As I've traveled, I am reminded that I have a connection to many folks across our great states of Kansas and Nebraska. It's a connection that is easy to overlook when the product is sent from my computer here on the farm to Terry Anderson's computer and then, well I don't know how it works from there.
I do know magic is involved to a certain extent. But the point is, I continually run in to readers who say something to this effect, "I've been reading about the river in the newspapers but how are you and Marilyn doing on your farm, you never say."
Happy New Years From The MorrowsThe short answer is that it is one of those "best and worst" years for us also. The Missouri River has drained back into its banks and we were mostly left with few structural problems except for the trash that was left along the edges. The exception is one field that had 40 acres that was carved pretty badly. About the top 5 feet was washed away. We were able to hire a dozer to smooth it a bit and have worked it four times in four different directions and think the planter will be okay next spring.
Most of the ground I farm is flat. I've never farmed "gently rolling" before but now I have some. We lost another 40 to cutting by the river and sand deposits too deep to do anything with. We were the fortunate ones however. We have good friends who have lost their homes and buildings and some very large fields have hundreds of acres with sand deposits that have rendered the ground of no further use.
In small communities we know the people and the struggles that each one faces. The thing that really amazes me is that these are the same folks who greet you with a smile, a handshake, a question about your own well being as well as an offer to help. Yes, they want to help you when they are the ones who lost their home. The belief is always that it could be worse. Eternal optimists are everywhere in rural America. That's why we live here. It's not for the weather or the excitement of raging flood waters. It's for the people.
I talked to "Bill" at the big farm show in Lincoln. He came up to the Midwest Messenger/-Midwest Producer booth that I was in and looked at me for a bit and then tipped his cowboy hat back and said, "So, you're Cliff?" I admitted that I was. He continued, "I always read your article in the Midwest Producer." I thanked him. He continued, "That is if I don't fall asleep while I'm reading it."
I chuckled a little. He had a good belly laugh about it.
Yeah, it is the people.