As we start this first week of August, we find ourselves considerably dry, and until this week, cool. We have started irrigating our crops, but perhaps the largest setback lately has been the relatively cool and dry weather. We haven’t had any useful rainfall in a few weeks. We received some traces of rain a few times, including yesterday, but we remain hopeful that we will get some rain tonight and tomorrow from the storms expected to pass through. We also welcome the heat this week. Most of the crops in the field right now were planted late due to the spring flooding or were damaged outright by the floods.
We had hoped for some favorable weather in June and July to help the crops catch up, but several weeks of cloudy weather in May and June, and a couple of cooler than normal July weeks have left us with fields of late crops. Because they are late, we expect lower than average yields as well. Crops in this category include tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, onions, and melons. Unfortunately, we will have no sweet corn this year because there were no dry fields available to plant this crop into this spring, and our potatoes suffered significant damage when they were stunted, due to being planted late and flooding, combined with severe pest pressure that damaged our plants significantly. The pest damage happened primarily because the potato plants were too small to fight off the leafhopper damage. All of this has left us with a field full of tiny potatoes.
The good news is that we have started planting fall crops, and if the aforementioned crops mature soon, we will be able to finish the season on a high note. No matter how it goes from here on out, however, I will continue to feel grateful for the food that we do harvest each week. My daughter reminded me the other day of the year that we harvested corn stalks and wild flowers in our prairies to sell to help us meet our expenses for a couple of weeks. We have seen years when it rained 8 inches in one night, flooding our fields so badly that I thought we lost everything. We have farmed through a drought so bad it didn’t rain a drop for almost six weeks. Yet, every year, no matter how bad it is, we survive.
I think that there is a lesson for me in all of this. A friend once told me that looking forward in life, the path one takes may seem unclear or even appear to have no direction, but if one looks back, everything becomes clear. Without farming I would not appreciate the joy of each meal like I do in the summer. If I hadn’t experienced hardships while farming, I might never know the feeling of being encouraged by someone who appreciates what we do. I have met so many amazing people while engaging in this endeavor, that I wouldn’t trade one stressful moment for any of the amazing relationships that I have experienced as a farmer. As I think about all that I have gained, I begin to lose count of all of the blessings that this life has given me.
Life is short and I suspect that I can always find something to worry about. Perhaps my greatest lesson is to accept that my plans are barely suggestions in the grand scheme of things, but I, like everyone, serve an important role as I follow my path. Tonight I will hope for rain, followed by bright sunny skies tomorrow. I will eat my dinner, appreciating the gift of life given to me from the soil I walk upon, and I will sleep well, knowing that today’s hardships will make complete sense through the lens of tomorrow.