I celebrate Earth Day each April with mixed feelings. I am very thankful for our farm and its natural resources; but that thanks is blended with the knowledge that Mother Nature is consistently in control of my life. Although I have learned to accept that fact over the years, it still brings a sense of helplessness at times when I realize just how much of my family’s livelihood is intrinsically tied this unpredictable force.
We pray for rain when it is dry…We pray for sunshine and heat to grow our crops during the summer months…We pray that violent storms which bring hail, damaging winds and tornadoes will not destroy what we have built and grown with our own blood, sweat and tears.
While I grew up in the “hurricane belt” and was no stranger to strong storms, I was not used to those storms putting my entire livelihood at risk. I can bring my family down into our basement when a tornado has been spotted, but I cannot bring my cattle, horses and all of our crops to the relative safety of a basement. Likewise, a brutal hail storm (in a matter of minutes) can damage both my animals and Matt’s crops while we can only helplessly watch.
As I headed home from Washington DC, a large weather system brought violent storms to the Midwest region of the country. We were lucky—we received rains, wind, and some hail. There were a several tornadoes spotted within a 50 mile radius of our farm. While the hail set back a couple of our alfalfa fields and my perennial flowers, there was only limited damage. I saw pictures of families that were not so lucky.
April brings a shift in our weather challenges from Mother Nature. Usually by then we no longer have a threat of ravaging blizzards (although in April of 1996—a couple of months before Matt and I were married—a blizzard hit central Nebraska and the ice and heavy snow took down many power lines. Matt and his family were out of power for 10 days.)
Strong thunderstorms tend to take the place of blizzards as March blends into April. I will never forget the spring that brought a blend of winter and spring forces of nature. We had heavy rains and thunderstorms for several hours. As the temperature dropped, the rain turned to ice and finally to snow. What began as a thunderstorm ended as a blizzard, and brought flash flooding to our farm. The girls laughed that our yard looked like the Amazon River—sometimes laughter is the best medicine of all…
I have written about my relationship with Mother Nature many times over the past eleven months. Earth Day always inspires me to reexamine that relationship. Today, I count my blessings that the grass is green, the cattle are well fed and cared for, Matt is planting new alfalfa, and there are signs of life all around me. Like every other farmer, I hope and pray that Mother Nature helps us in this quest for life.