It’s a good thing we humans don’t get to run the weather or we would be living on one mighty, mixed-up planet.
I listened to two men arguing over the weather just the other day. One man had been selfishly gloating over the fact that he has barely had to mow his grass this summer and he said he doesn’t mind the lack of rain one bit. The other man, who runs a fruit and vegetable farm, said just hearing those comments makes him want to haul off and hit somebody.
If given the chance, the golfer would order perpetual sunshine. The amusement park owners would likely ask for blue skies with big, puffy clouds to break up the heat just a bit and the farmers would be placing orders for sunshine with rains only during specified time frames.
Worrying. I knew all about the stress and worry of summer rains on a farm, but it didn’t ever drive me to the point of distraction until these past few summers. The entire month of July, every farmer I know was begging for rain. We were counted among them, as day after day brought more heat and sunshine, but very little precipitation.
Our second crop alfalfa grass mix was still somehow managing to come on fairly well, in spite of the fact that overall rainfall was extremely short.
The dry weather continued, day after day after day. Until, that is, the day after our second crop hay was mowed.
I awoke on that late-July Monday morning to the sound of rain hitting the roof. Like a cartoon character, I bolted out of bed, nearly shouting “NO!” at the very prospect of rain falling on that beautiful hay lying out there in our back 40.
Not only was it raining, but the forecast had incomprehensibly changed, and the weather man – the guy who monotonously brought us day after day of sunny skies for the entire month of July – now predicted a day-long, steady rain.
“There is now a chance of rain each day this week!” he said with a smile.
Throwing punches. I now knew what it felt like to want to haul off and hit someone.
Everyone I talked to that day said, “Boy, it’s great to see that rain. We sure needed it.”
I fought the urge to grumble and growl. Instead, I politely smiled and held a silent little pity party for myself and kept my negative comments under wraps. I came home and looked out the rain-speckled windows at the soggy hay, just lying there soaking up the constant showers.
At least it hasn’t been raked yet, I tried to reassure myself.
The next day brought light showers. There was a window of opportunity for blue skies and sunshine on Wednesday. Maybe we could salvage something out of that second crop, but I knew the value was fading fast.
I was stewing, minute by minute, my mind on that hay out there in the field when it needed to be elsewhere.
I now have a much better understanding of why my dad had stomach problems. The older he got, the worse that old ulcer seemed to be. I now realize that he earned it in many ways, but getting a decent hay crop in to the barn each summer was reason enough for constant indigestion and frazzled nerves.
Why? As a kid, I realized early on that the weather report could set the tone for the day and I found myself not worrying so much about the hay as I worried about my dad.
‘Why does he put himself through this?’ I wondered hundreds of times. When he died so young, 12 years ago today as I write this, I wanted to blame something, anything, for taking him from us far too soon. I now realize that he wouldn’t have been happy doing anything else and no matter what other profession he might have chosen, he would have still had elements beyond his control to concern him constantly.
Everyone has something to worry about. The investor watches and worries over the Dow Jones Index and all sorts of other indicators. Retail merchants fight a changing economy, employees who don’t want to show up to work on time and constant crooks. The wharf fisherman fights the tides and pollution, while the citrus farmer worries over frost.
Today, after several days of intense heat, the rain is falling steadily, and showers are predicted throughout the coming week. The timing simply couldn’t be better.
Bouncing back. I walked up to the barn bank early this morning and just stood there, looking over that back 40. I now understand how a fellow can bounce back from that grumbling, aggravated frame of mind that no one can understand if they’ve never been there.
Despair has been replaced with a hopeful heart. A true farmer just doesn’t have it in him to ever give up.
Bring on the third crop!
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