The Farmer: The Eternal Optimist…

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.

The girls by one of our tractors waiting for their daddy to load the alfalfa seed into the planter so that he can plant the field...

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.

They look to me for care. The feed that I nourish them with is grown on our farm or other farms in Central Nebraska. We are all dependent on Mother Nature...

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.

Recently, a hail storm came through and left the road and fields by our house covered in a couple of inches of white ice...

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.

These are alfalfa plants from the field behind our house. If you look closely, you can see that there is some damage to some of the top leaves from the hail. The alfalfa is recovering and will be fine to harvest in May.

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.)

The farmer always seems to persevere---many times relying heavily on the youthful optimism of the next generation. Karyn gives her daddy moral support and a big smile as he gets ready to plant a new alfalfa field.

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…

Helping to bring life to the land...The farmer is the eternal optimist!

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.

Matt and his crew will *hopefully* finish planting alfalfa any day now--as long as Mother Nature cooperates!


Filed under Environmental Stewardship, Farming, General

5 responses to “The Farmer: The Eternal Optimist…

  1. Stephanie Rush

    Wonderfully written Anne! That storm in ’96 left us with 3 less days of school too! Scary how quickly things can change when it comes to Mother Nature.

  2. Paula

    A true Earth Day commentary from one who loves and respects the land.

  3. Wonderfull post 🙂 My grandmother and uncle live near Blair, NE and my uncle has a big farm out there. He no longer plants or runs cattle because of some goverment thing, but has trees and other things.

  4. I am glad that you all enjoyed my post! I hope that you had a good celebration of Earth Day, and are having a great week. Thanks for reading and commenting.


  5. i always drink alfalfa as tea, but i don’t know the plant, i see the plant on this site

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