Thursday, April 16, 2015

You think farming is easy.



Tonight, I cried about wheat. Tonight was not easy nor will it be easily forgotten. But that's part of farming. We watch a crop fail right before our eyes. It might happen fast, like tonight, or it might slowly wither and die, like it did last year from drought.

Farming isn't easy.

I flew home from St. Louis today, landing in Amarillo around 2 p.m. I was quickly inundated with thunderstorm warnings and tornado watches. On my drive to Pampa to fetch my dogs from the boarding kennel, I drove through heavy rain and small hail. That isn't unheard of this time of the year, although this is my first "normal spring" in the Texas Panhandle since it didn't rain at all last spring when I moved here. I retrieved the dogs without delay and hurried home, arriving minutes before hearing of a tornado on the ground about 15 miles away. Since our 1940s tiny house does not have a basement, I determined a trip to Granny and Granddad's was in order. Four short minutes later, Ranger, Rori and I had arrived safely at Granny's to wait out the impending storm.

Soon, the front of the storm hit, bringing pea-sized hail, heavy winds and rain. Granny and I drank our wine and watched the proceedings outside, both praying for that to be the end of it.

It wasn't the end of it.

The hail quit for a few short minutes, only to return with a vengeance. Pea-sized turned to quarter-sized. Quarter-sized turned to golf-ball-sized. Before long, Granny's yard is covered in hail stones, making it look like it had snowed. Eventually, the hail died away, but the damage had been done. That's farming. We rely on Mother Nature to bring us rain. We know Mother Nature can also bring us much worse. Tonight we got both, the rain and much worse.

After eating supper with Granny and Granddad, I drove the two miles home, right passed the field of wheat I had admired a couple hours before. I probably shouldn't have stopped. I knew I wouldn't like what I saw, but I stopped anyway. As I trudged out through the mud, I saw what was left of my beautiful wheat. A crop Royce and I had nurtured, applying extra nitrogen when it needed nutrients and extra irrigation water when it was thirsty. Now half of it is broken over or shredded from hail. The other half will have had severe bruising of the soon-to-emerge grain heads, damaging yields greatly. It isn't so beautiful anymore. All of our hard work ruined in 30 minutes by a force greater than all of us and that none of us can control.

Farming isn't easy, but it is what I love and what my husband loves. We are both passionate about farming and feeding our neighbors. This was the first great-looking wheat crop we've had since Royce started farming in 2011. Thanks to tonight, I'm not sure we will make any money back on this crop, despite all of our efforts. I'll give wheat credit. It is a very resilient crop so it might recover more than I'm giving it credit for tonight. But no matter what, it won't be the same as it was before this storm.

Farming might look easy from where you're sitting, but from where I'm at tonight, farming is the farthest thing from easy I've ever seen.





This would have developed into the grain. Now, not so much.

2 comments:

  1. Oh, gosh, that is tough. You're right, farming is one of those things that can make you dance with joy but you just can't count your chickens until the last bit of the harvest has finished. I'm sorry to hear that has happened :(

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  2. I just stumbled upon your blog from the Sisterhood post by The Prairie Farmgirl.

    I am SO sorry to hear this happened to you. It makes me sick to my stomach thinking about it. Two summers ago we had a terrible storm go through and wipe out farmer's cash crops and one of our neighbors was struck by lightening. TERRIBLE. I am no longer a fan or spring or summer storms just for that reason.

    Hope the remaining wheat bounces back! Glad I found your blog :)

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