The summer haze has combined with soggy days around this part of the Farm Belt. If weeds were worth something, we all would be rolling in money.
I asked a friend one day last week if he has been able to make hay in this almost constant rain and gray gloom.
“Nope. It’s been about the worst year I can remember for getting a hay crop in the barn. I’m hoping I’ll get enough to feed my own livestock with some to sell. I just have to hope that what extra I do manage to bale will bring a decent price,” he said.
What is bad news for one farmer almost always proves to be good news for another. If a drought costs western Farm Belt producers an entire crop, our neck of the woods might see better prices at harvest.
What I’ve always seen in the farm producers I’ve known is that they don’t ever wish bad luck on anyone, regardless of this supply and demand price reality. More than 20 years ago, part of my job was to oversee the calling of farmers throughout an eight-county area for a crop report.
It was a popular part of the newspaper I managed at that time, and it proved to be one of the most interesting parts of the week. What I often heard was, even through the great tone of worry in mid-summer, a hope that things could still turn around during the remaining growing season. Looking through an old box of news clippings and my notebooks, I found these old crop reports from the mid-1980s. Farm families were concerned but hopeful, either wishing for rain for hoping mightily for relief from too much of it.
One very ornery Lorain County, Ohio, farmer said, “Ya know, we old dyed-in-the-wool farmers just ain’t happy unless we have somethin’ to worry over and grumble about. Just ask my wife!”
I think of the cost to produce an acre of corn then, compared to now, and the price differential. Farmers have had to be forever vigilant in order to survive, and the weather holds a heavy sway that is completely out of anyone’s control.
In my own brand of shorthand, I long ago jotted a quote from a Wayne County, Ohio, farmer who said, “I prayed for a half-inch of rain overnight.
“Turns out my wife and my daughter said the same prayer. Instead of a half-inch soaking rain, we got an inch and a half as quick as lightning, a real gully-washer. I guess we need to be a little more specific.”
Some things never change, wouldn’t you agree?
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