Here on the farm we were all hoping for what you call a “normal” summer. While during the summer of 2012 there was not enough rain to shake a stick at, the summer of 2013 has shown us what can happen at the other end of the precipitation spectrum—too much rain. I recall someone saying that too much of a good thing is not healthy for a person. Well, it turns out the same holds true here on the farm. The formula of too much rain plus too little action in the fields equals an unhealthy yield of agitation for the guys here on the farm. That I say after weeks of yours truly putting up with the stress of seeing a bunch of men go on a rollercoaster ride of emotions just because they can’t get out there and plant something.
Shaggy is a shaggy mess. Lucky feels very unlucky. Sunny has a disposition that is not at all what I would call sunny. Big C is getting bored and restless. As for me, I am trying to hold down the fort so to speak, taking on various roles as one moment a psychiatrist when I see them head into depression mode, a cheerleader on days lately when they manage to get out and get one field planted (go, John Deere, go!), a motivational speaker to keep them going and a preacher, reminding them that at this time faith is the key to survival. I pray and pray and pray for the Good Lord to give me the strength to keep these guys focused and to not lose it. After all, Wanda the cow needs some reassurance that she is going to have enough to eat this coming winter.
I have this feeling that the way things are playing out this summer, the weather has been demonstrating late season tendencies so far. If this is true, then the planting that normally got started around here toward the end of May/first part of June is happening a month later. So far, that seems to be what is happening.
What Lucky and the crew managed to sneak in the ground the last week or so is normal timing for the last week of May or around Memorial Day, which is when most of the time it rains around here. Still, it took quite a bit of convincing these guys that this is what is happening and that the normal planting protocol for May in past years just does not apply this time around. I told the guys that as farmers who face challenges all the time in one form or another, they should not allow the weather to make them feel they have no control. Rather, they should focus on the creativity and intelligence that has gotten them to where they are after decades of farming to get them through this challenge. Of course, farming is not for those with little faith and little courage.
Once Lucky got past the panic, then the helpless mode of thinking, he really started to put his thinking cap on. After all, I told him, he was not born yesterday and being the seasoned farmer he is, I was confident he would come up with a strategy. The first step though would require really thinking outside the box, what is not considered “normal.” It is almost like something I learned in chemistry in college. If you want to remove something, you have to remove it with something comparable—like with like. In this case, to remove this unpleasant situation Lucky is facing with not being able to plant, he needs to apply the abnormal (outside the box thinking) with the abnormal (unusually wet weather). So Lucky did just that. He came up with other ways to get the crops in. He switched out the corn meant to use for a long growing season for corn meant to use for a shorter growing season. He decided to use different equipment to break open the fields. He analyzed with Sunny and Big C which fields would be suitable to be planted first. He also got aggressive with making sure the tractor wheels got turning when the weather did allow field work to commence, even though the window of time was very short. Sunny, Lucky and Big C adapted to the fields quickly, knowing when to speed up to avoid getting stuck. As for Shaggy, he carried with him his usual Shaggy bad karma and would often get stuck—this happening after he clearly was told in the first place to not go in the field he got stuck in because it was too wet.
Now that we are into July, I do admit we are a little bit further ahead than a month ago. At least there is a silo’s worth of corn planted and even some soybeans as of this past week. Lucky at least didn’t give up like other farmers who decided to go in on some kind of program to bail them out with money, but money is not part of a cow’s diet. Wanda and her companions still need to eat, for heaven’s sake!
We are supposed to be getting a stretch of days without rain, one of them maybe being on the Fourth of July. Like other years on that day we will have some corn poked up out of the ground, but this year it won’t be as the saying goes of it being “knee high on the Fourth of July.” We’ll just be expecting the corn to be as high as it would be on the fourth of June and count our blessings that it has come out of the ground, not drowned out or rotted out. Or, we could still hold to the “knee high on Fourth of July” saying when put the way Lucky recalls his father Chief had a way of thinking about it during those challenging years of planting. If you put your knee to the ground on the Fourth of July, the corn definitely will be knee high.