When you fill your tank with gas, you expect to cover miles. It’s a given.
When you work, you expect to get paid… it’s usually contracted. But, production agriculture is not simple. There’s no guarantees you’ll work and get paid. Just guarantee you will work.
We stay up at night pondering the forecast, penciling our fate. Yet, at the end of 365 days our wrinkled, callused hands don’t grasp a pay check. In these tough years, we pay to work. And the gray hair comes free. And we still wait for rain.
We, the drought-affected farmers and ranchers of a very large area, are in a disaster. Our livelihoods devastated. For some, we’ve been hit a few years in a row. It takes its toll and it’s hard to get ahead.
Imagine watching a project you’ve spent a lifetime perfecting, only to watch it deteriorate with the thermometer climbing and forecasts without hope. The baking of the land.
I pluck another head of wheat. The color is wrong, its shape out of whack. The plant has not produced a single seed. An empty head of wheat. Just because we combine, doesn’t mean we get yields.
Glancing at the brown pastures, the cattle are hungry. The hay crop is slim. Yet, the mess needs to be cleaned up. So the tractors still run. Another expense.
Can you imagine showing up to work everyday, and not getting paid? Imagine the desire it takes to just get out of bed every day? Let alone engage your mind? Working to find the best problem-solving skills to make the most economical and environmental decisions? The basic tasks become quite difficult.
Families are burdened. Everyone is cutting back. The entire region, our state, is dramatically affected.
Yet, everyone is looking ahead. Because there’s always next year.
Maybe rain will come?
Maybe prices will climb?
But we know, expenses will not drop.
But, we get up, face the day, and find the beauty.
The pride in grilling a homegrown burger. Boiling a huge pot of noodles from our durum. Watching our kids care for their animals, and learn to weld. Appreciating wide open spaces and room to roam. Spaces to think. Chores to teach responsibility and tiny pleasures.
And dang… tractors are sexy. The new beard is pretty saucy too. And it all works out. For falling in love with farming and ranching, is falling in love with nature. With simplicity. With brilliant, unselfish souls. We appreciate the miracles in the muscling of our animals, and the delicate texture of our fields.
For we love farming. We love ranching. Sure, not everyday do we love our job, but we’re looking behind with we see a whole lot. Sometimes it’s just a fog. But ahead, we look with hope. And we will bond together. Through the tough years, and clinging tighter for a good year.