Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Ebbs and Flows and the Farmer's Spirit
It amazes me that a year ago I shared pictures of the flooding Missouri River. Farms were ruined, families moved because of it. Those who stayed planted crops that, up until May, were doing great. Then the drought hit. Luckily, most harvested an early hay crop. But the corn that started off so energetically, a foot high by June, barely produced any ears and was dry by early August. God bless those farmers who persevered after the flood only to be hit by a drought the next season.
Hay has doubled in price. There is less of it. I believe hopes of a second cutting were unfulfilled. It's a vicious cycle because the cattle still need to be fed. We normally don't start feeding hay until November. We have begun already. Food prices will soar because of the limited hay and corn crops. If you didn't know it, corn products and by-products are in many, many foods.
It is good if you can put in a garden for your family or be a member of a local community supported agriculture group. We have the latter here in town and we're members. I'm glad to support the local farmers. I keep thinking I'll get a garden in "this year," but it always seems to turn into "next year." It will happen one day. Mary Pat's school-bus driver tells me about her prolific garden. She crochets a blanket for her grandchild while Mary Pat is being strapped in, and she tells me all about it. Each year she puts up hundreds of quarts of vegetables. Her hard work and self-sufficiency inspire me.
The farmers do, too. Our neighbors have been farming for generations. Vince helps us set round bales (giant five and a half foot diameter hay bales) with his big tractor. One day the front axle broke as he was lifting the bale high. Vince, almost 70, popped down, rubbed his chin and just stared. I was impressed with his calm. I told him I'd probably be react by whining and fussing. He just looked at me with wise, clear eyes and said, "But that wouldn't change things." He turned back to the tractor and continued thinking out loud, "I have a brother with a welder, and I'll just get this off and have him help..." Later on I told his wife how thankful I was that it had happened at such a slow speed and not as he was driving over here. She said, "Well, we would've dealt with that, too." I pushed, "But Vince could have been hurt!" She answered with the same calm as her husband. "We're farmers--that's part of farming life and we deal with what comes."
Deal with what comes. A farmer I'd mentioned last fall during the floods was one who had to move. He's moved yet again to another farm on higher ground. He and his wife are happy. It could have been so much worse. They have each other and their family. And this new farm is actually closer to her parents and her church. It is probable that his crops have not done well this year. But I bet he'd be thankful that they weren't wiped out like last year.
A verse in the Bible has been lived out by the farmers I know: "Be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and supplication make your requests known to God. And the Peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Phillippians 4:6-7)
I'd do well to remember that.
God bless you,
The Abbey Farm
There are ways to support our country's farmers both locally and on a larger scale...check out Farm Aid. And don't forget to keep them in your prayers.