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Fighting drought despair with attitude adjustmentPosted Wednesday, July 11, 2012, at 8:05 AM
The corn stalks are tightly rolled. They are shorter than normal, some not even taller than I am. And now after being battered by hot, dry winds, 100-plus degree temperatures, the bottom leaves are browning and falling off.
It feels -- and looks -- like August. But it's not. In fact, it is barely July.
I am amazed at how quickly tides can change in farming. Last year, farmers fought flood waters and hoped it wouldn't rain.
A few years before that, we struggled to get corn and soybeans planted in rain-saturated soil.
I cursed the rain then.
In hindsight, I shouldn't have done that.
Driving home through the tattered fields, I find myself wondering what, if any, crops we will harvest this year. My mood darkens. My stomach flip-flops. My eyes begin to sting.
Then I remember, every year there is a week or more in our crop season where it looks as though we might have a failed crop. It might be spring when wet or dry weather delays planting. Or it could be later when hail storms batter tiny plants, or winds blow over an entire field of corn. It could be July and August when hot, dry weather never ends. Or it could be rainstorm after rainstorm during harvest, when it seem the crops will never be gathered.
In fact, there is a time every year when I wouldn't give a nickel for our crop, I think, with the words I've said many, many times.
"Anybody have a nickel," I grumble aloud.
The cloud in my mind darkens.
Then I hear the advice I've given more than once, to myself, to my husband and to my sons.
"It's all in the attitude. You can choose to focus on the positive, or you can choose to focus on the negative. You have a choice."
Time to listen to my own advice.
Instead of looking around at the drying crops, I stare ahead, thinking of my blessings. There are so many. I recall other bad farming years we've had. I remember some dates: drought of 1988 and flood of 1993.
Those years, though, bring up happy memories, certainly not sad ones. Son No. 1 was born during the drought, while Son No. 2 came during the flood year. I have no idea what the corn yielded or whether we were profitable that year.
There are other happy memories.
I don't recall the year, but I remember it was before our children were born. We were desperate for rain. Then one night, the skies opened up, pouring water everywhere. My husband and I sat in the darkness of our living room and listened to the musical sound for several hours. We knew our crops were saved, at least for awhile.
With a smile, I remember another dry year and a joke hubby shared with two young boys.
"If it finally rains, Daddy said he'll run across the backyard naked," they exclaimed, running into the house to tattle on their ornery father.
It did finally rain, but I can't remember if he kept his promise.
The little giggles, though, they will stay in my memory forever.
I recall other poor crop years. Then I remember good years and even a few great years. There were more than a few average years.
While my husband and sons can probably quote yields and field conditions from many, I instead remember the lessons I've learned in 28 years on a farm.
--The sun always comes out eventually.
--The crops always get planted and harvested eventually.
--And next year may be better, or it could be worse. But it certainly won't be the same.
--The problems and issues we face seem insurmountable at times, but somehow we always find a way.
--It could always get worse, always.
--Problems with corn yields are minor compared to the real problems we could have.
--God always answers prayers, but on His time schedule, not ours.
No doubt 2012 will teach us more lessons, especially for our boys who have experienced more torrid rainfall events than brutal droughts.
By this fall (perhaps sooner) we will know what our corn and soybeans yield, if anything. We'll probably have an inkling of how the nation-wide drought will affect our economy, crop prices, grocery prices and 2013.
Hopefully for me this year will become a lesson in patience, a lesson in perseverance and, more than anything, a lesson in counting my blessings everyday.
They are always there, but sometimes a depressing view gets in the way.
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