Welcome back to RamZone’s Year of the Farmer guest blogger series, where stories of life on the American farm are offered up by the people best qualified to tell them—American farmers. The goal of this series, of course, is to raise awareness in the Year of the Farmer of the values, ideals and simple pleasures associated with the farming life.
Last month, guest blogger Lisa Steele wrote to great effect about chickens and how raising them has helped reconnect her family with their community. This month, guest blogger Kelsey Pope, from the popular blog Ag on the Forefront, discusses the role of weather and its significant impact on a farmer’s life.
Puppets of the Weather
By Kelsey Pope
Sometimes the weather can bring out the best in all of us. And sometimes we can be beyond frustrated with it.
During this time of year, farmers are like puppets manipulated by Mother Nature, the puppeteer of weather changes. While it’s necessary to follow her course to produce the food to feed our world, it’s not always easy.
This year has been especially challenging and humbling for farmers. Widespread drought, flooding and a late, cold spring have been much to reckon with. So while most might think the farmer just waits until he can get into the field, there is much more behind his story.
I called Grandma the other day to check in on how she and Grandpa were doing. I asked how Grandpa was “holding out” until it warmed up enough to plant corn. She chuckled and said, “You know your Grandpa, or any other farmer, for that matter—he is out there in the shop tinkering with the planter, playing with the GPS system and probably sweeping up one more time.” There is no waiting around in the world of farming, not even on the weather.
Back home in Colorado, Dad has been fighting late winter storms through May. His calving season is later than most; because he’s not a crop farmer, he doesn’t have to worry about calving season and crop planting season overlapping. It usually works out well to calve later in Colorado to avoid the snow and cold that winter months bring. But it didn’t matter too much this spring, as snow and winds raged into spiteful blizzards throughout the plains in April. There was no waiting the blizzards out, though; the cows and their calves needed to be taken care of regardless of the weather.
Seeing these mamas happily nursing their babies after the fury of winter storm Yogi was just one reward of a job well done for exhausted ranchers. The cows and calves were weary, but because they were in pastures with protective rock windbreaks and were provided sufficient bedding and feed, they, too, have been able to outlast being puppets of the weather.
Agriculture isn’t the only industry that the weather puppeteers. Weather can have a financial toll on society by affecting construction, retail sales, education, tourism and, frankly, our everyday lives. It can affect that mom who was supposed to pick up her daughter after soccer practice, but practice was canceled due to extreme weather. Or maybe the air conditioning unit went out in your house in the dead of summer—it affects your quality of life, but then again, it just gave a job to the repairman.
Unfortunately, the heartland was recently rocked by tragic tornados, affecting families and others all across the nation. The power of the weather’s impact will not be forgotten by the Moore and Shawnee, Oklahoma, communities, nor by others who have experienced the devastation that tornados bring. These families are certainly in my thoughts and prayers, and this is a reminder to all of us of the power of the weather and how it can change our lives in an instant.
We are thankful for our farmers and ranchers for putting the needs of their farm first to grow food for our growing world despite how the weather may affect them or us. Weather really brings out “the farmer in all of us.”
Like Kelsey, the Ram Truck brand has the people of Oklahoma in our thoughts and prayers; we wish them all the best during this difficult time. Please join us in supporting the First Response Team of America, an organization spearheading relief and search and rescue efforts in Moore, Oklahoma, and the surrounding areas. Visit firstresponseteam.org to make a contribution.
All photos courtesy of Kelsey Pope.