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Lesson learned: Be careful what you wish forPosted Tuesday, October 23, 2012, at 1:05 PM
Just like a snowflake, every year of farming is different. And each year, I find myself looking back after harvest, wondering if I learned anything.
I always hope to gain some new insight about the weather, about our farm, about my fellow farmers or about the crops we raise, which I can store away in my basket of experience.
For 2012, I think my basket is overflowing with information.
One of the most important things I learned is to never, ever wish away rain.
Last fall, going into winter, we had a wonderful dry spell. With almost five years of wet springs, wetter summers and very damp falls, the change was welcomed and applauded.
Field work not completed in many years was finished up with time to spare.
With the mild winter, more work was accomplished. We even put on fertilizer in January.
That brings me to my next lesson.
Sometimes life can be a little too easy. Just because we got our crops planted on time, didn't mean they would actually grow. And that, of course, brings me back to lesson one: We do need rain.
Old-timers warned of incoming doom. They said the last time we had a dry winter was 1960. That year, they said it snowed the entire month of March. I remember wishing and praying that didn't happen.
In hindsight, that too, was a mistake. Again, I'm reminded of lesson number one.
In fact, 2012 taught all of us winter really isn't such a bad thing, for our farm, or for our family. The winter helps slow down bugs, diseases and weeds. And, of course, rain and snow regenerates the soil.
For farmers, winter does the same thing. In fact, last year I really missed the quiet recuperation process the slower season gives my farmers, my family and myself.
Winter also gives a greater appreciation of spring, and all it has to offer.
I also learned, or maybe, just had the notion confirmed -- weather is a good reason to complain, no matter the weather. Through the years, I've heard them all: too wet, too dry, not quite dry enough, too hot, too cold, not cold enough, not hot enough. Too much wind, not enough wind, etc.
Depending on the season, any of these scenarios can impede farming.
I also learned, however, about people and farmers.
While most farmers were upset watching their crops deteriorate (die) every day, it didn't define them.
In fact, once the inevitable drought was going to severely damage their crops, they didn't complain. I heard many say, "There is nothing we can do about it" and "We'll live to farm another day."
Of course, most carry insurance, which helped. High prices for the crops which would be grown, helped as well.
But the truth is most farmers, despite their complaints, are realists. They understand droughts, floods and crop failures are all part of farming. I had learned that through other dry years, but even then, I had forgotten.
I'm sure there are other lessons I will eventually glean from 2012. In fact, I've finally learned the older I get, the wiser I get.
But I think the most important lesson comes from a saying my mother-in-law often said, "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it."
I think for 2013 I'll just learn to live with whatever happens -- and just be thankful I'm still here to have the experience.
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