Haystack Farm

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Baptism by Drought

It is unlikely one has never heard discussions of farming and drought. I've seen pictures of deserts in Africa, and dry fields in Saskatchewan. This year, however, put the idea of drought into a whole new perspective for me. Drought doesn't mean you have to work a little harder to produce a crop. Drought doesn't mean you have to put up with a lawn that is less than green. When trying to produce food, drought means do what you can but it might not make a difference. We have said many a prayer of thanks for the recent rain in our neck of the woods. Our fingers are diligently crossed that the rest of the summer finds a balance between hot and cold, wet and dry. If this is the worst "drought" I see in my many future years of farming I will consider myself very lucky. Though, hopefully, short lived as it was for us the feelings of being helplessly trapped in a drought were very real when every weather forecast brought us no rain for the better part of three months. It can grow to a feeling of panic as you see your pasture wither to nothing and look at your empty hay reserves. When those around you start culling herds and paying $150 a bale for hay to supplement their animals in a time when there should be ample green grass you can't help but sweat a few bullets. Your stomach can become raw and your spirit frustrated as you look to the sky and find nothing but heat. Then you look to your newly seeded field and find little but wild oats and thistles. You start to trace back through all the pasture management decisions you've made since the snow melted and wonder how you messed it up so badly that you have run out of grass. The dry, sproutless garden becomes the least of your worries. Just when you think you're bearing the weight of all reality is handing you, you find yourself with periods of no water flowing from the tap in your kitchen sink.  The stress of such a seemingly helpless situation could easily become your life rather than one part of it. At times I know I could think of very little else, cursing what in hindsight were bad decisions and clinging on to the phrase "if only". For us it finally did rain after only a few months. For the souls living in the dust bowl years it went on for years. For us we could still go to the grocery store and buy what we needed to eat. For the souls living in drought stricken Africa who depend on what they grow to live they go hungry. It is a terrible feeling no matter how you experience it.  I know I won't sit around sixty years from now telling my grandchildren about the great drought of 2015 but I know my experience over these last few months will educate my farming from this point on.

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