Every June the scene is the same, my dad standing in a wheat field, bent over, inspecting the wheat. He is inspecting the wheat for diseases, insects, yields, signs of drought, etc. He may argue that he is no expert, but after spending his life on the farm, many would beg to differ.
For him, it all begins in the middle of September when we plant the first wheat seed into the ground; the anticipation begins. It always starts with “did we plant it too shallow or did we plant it too deep”? Then the anticipation for moisture begins. He is a dry land farmer and his crops depend 100% on the moisture mother nature provides. Without this moisture, he doesn’t grow a crop. If, and hopefully when he see’s the first sprout, the anticipation of whether he put on enough fertilizer or planted it thick enough or too thick comes into question.
Once the first freeze hits he waits through the winter months, waiting and wondering if he will have any winter kill when things start to thaw out. Even though the winter months are slow for work, the anticipation of what the summer will bring never leaves his mind.
Spring soon arrives and the frost starts melting off the green tips of the leaves. He watches as the wheat gradually starts to grow. Through the months of April and May, he sits back and watches the nightly temperatures, trying to anticipate if the dropping temperatures will cause freeze damage to his growing crop.
June comes along next, and it is daily weather watching for him. The anticipation of the weather can be enough to drive a person crazy. Some years we go through a drought, the moisture just doesn’t come and the anticipation of if there will even be a crop to harvest is questionable. Then there are years where we get hailed and he wonders if he will need to harvest a partially standing field or if the field is a total loss. For the last couple of years he has seen inches upon inches of rain which can yield amazing crops, but the threat of disease comes along with the moisture causing expenses to rise. For my dad, it is daily checks on all of his fields, walking through the crisp green fields looking for any signs of stress, guessing and only anticipating what the final outcome will be.
July finally arrives and the time for wheat harvest is here. Watching as the golden wheat rolls into the combines, as it is loaded onto the trucks, and as it is taken to the bins. This can be a huge relief for any farmer. However, the stress and anticipation does not end there. For my dad, he farms many acres, and only so many acres can be harvested in a day. Throughout the entire harvest, he continues to watch the weather, hoping to skirt past any thunderstorms that build and wreck havoc on the country.
When the fields are all harvested, a sigh of relief is exhaled, but the anticipation still continues on. It is not only the anticipation of the crops we have left to harvest, August the millet will be harvested, and October the corn will be harvested. All will require the same concerns and daily observations, but the anticipation of the markets is at hand as well. It is the question of the day for many farmers; will the price go up or will it go down? Should I sell or should I hold out?
I believe it takes a special person to be and remain a farmer. Someone who has extreme patience, who can see the positive outcomes during the negative times, who can value, cherish and learn from each and every experience. Farming isn’t an easy job, there can be many letdowns, but it is those who can make it through those hard times to enjoy the good times that are the true Farmers!