The ups and downs of 2021

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As I looked at the calendar, I realized that I get to write the last “All About Grazing” article for the year 2021. Then it hit me: what in the world am I going to write about that hasn’t been covered this year? 

Has 2021 been a great year for farmers? Some parts, yes, and others, no. The ups and downs of the agriculture industry in the United States always have an unpredictable future. Recent weather was a perfect example of that. Severe weather with high winds and tornados devastated parts of our country to the South of us. 

Damage

Some posted videos of the damage to the countryside on TikTok: barns leveled, roofs off and fences destroyed. Pasture, hay and crop ground with debris from trees, buildings, cars and trucks all over them. 

Grain bins that stored winter feed supplies had their tops ripped off exposing that grain to the elements. In one video, a farmer was searching for any of his cows that may have survived. At the time the video was posted, he had not found any of his animals. 

The University of Kentucky Research and Extension Center at Princeton, Kentucky, was a total loss. All buildings at the center were condemned. Luckily, no employees were lost, but some also lost their homes. Some Amish and Mennonite farm communities also had major losses with no insurance to help with cleaning up or building back. 

Recovering

There is no perfect time of the year for devastating weather events to occur. This time of year when the days are shorter and darkness comes early makes it hard. But on top of that we have cold, rain, mud, snow and ice to deal with that make cleaning up and trying to get back to a somewhat normal state seem unattainable at this point. 

Farm families are survivors, proud of their farms, and they cherish the land that they own; farmland that will be passed down to the next generation of farmers. 

While everything looks dim right now with higher gas and fertilizer prices, shortages of farm and building supplies, things will get better. Barns will be rebuilt, fence will be repaired and replaced and livestock will be taken care of and fed. The work will also begin to clean those pastures, hayfields and cropland of debris so that life may go on the farm. 

This week I saw a list of 10 reasons why Santa Claus could have been a farmer. For me, No. 10 hit home — “He takes care of the needs of the whole world.” This is so true, because our family farms do provide food, shelter and clothing for the whole world. 

Kindness

I will leave you with one final thing this holiday season. We have had a very rough time during the last two years making it through the pandemic. But we are survivors and we will get through this, it can only make us stronger. 

A friend of mine posted this reading this week, from Amy Weatherly: “You’re going to come in contact with an awful lot of people who are at their absolute breaking point this week. Friends, family, co-workers, teachers, strangers in the grocery store, retail workers. While it may be the merriest time of the year for some, it may be the saddest, most stressful, loneliest, most heartbreaking for others. We’re all busy. But we’re not too busy to be kind, caring and patient. Remember the best thing you can give someone this season is love.”

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Sandra D. Smith is an Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator at OSU Extension, Carroll County. Send questions or comments in c/o Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460

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