Middle Ground is Better Ground
The Farmer’s Field by Ron Rabou
Whether a person is involved in agriculture or not, I’m sure they remember the extreme drought our region dealt with last year. From a production agriculture perspective, it was perhaps some of the most frustrating times I can remember.
Our farm received so little rain in a 160-day period, it was not even mentionable. On top of this, a significant hard freeze at the end of May cut the yields on our growing crops by up to 80 percent.
High temperatures early in the summer caused our remaining flowering crops to mostly fail, some of which were total losses.
I remember, very well, the hopelessness of watching over a year’s worth of labor and inputs disappear with no reward or compensation in the end. I remember the helplessness of going through all of the motions of planting crops, knowing deep inside, they had no chance.
I remember it so well, I can assure readers I never want to have this experience or those feelings ever again.
As the snow began to fall this past winter, there was a glimmer of hope maybe things would change for the 2023 growing season. But, as snow melted and spring began to take hold, it became painfully obvious the extreme winter conditions had taken its toll on the wheat crop, which was struggling to emerge from dormancy.
“Here we go again,” I thought as we began the painful process of tearing out some of our wheat crop which had clearly not survived the winter.
Then, miraculously, things began to change – it started to rain! In fact, it rained so much, the month of May brought well over 10 inches of rain to our parched land.
Slowly, everything started to grow and turn green. Plants that struggled to live in the previous year’s drought were now showing off vibrant colors of red, blue, yellow, purple, orange, white and of course, green.
At first, the land drank the water so quickly, it was as if it had never rained at all. Then, the water began to stay on the surface.
Small lakes in our fields took the place of what had been dry dust for so long. Ducks began to move in, and now we watch little ducklings swim as we plant our crops around the water.
Since the beginning of May, rain has become almost as dependable and predictable as the Wyoming wind. It has brought new life, hope and peace.
But, it has also brought challenges – small windows of productivity, flooded and washed fields, washed out crops, delayed planting and a farmer’s favorite – weeds.
Would I take one over the other? Absolutely!
I’ll take wet and the challenges it brings any day over dry. But, here is my underlying point – it seems like it’s nearly always one extreme to the next. The conditions of the past year could not be much further apart.
All things considered, I can’t help but ask myself why there can’t be some happy middle ground. Is it too much to expect a compromise of the extremes? Probably so. It’s the weather, and there isn’t a darn thing we can do to change it.
The story of these two extremes has given me perspective on what is going on in our great country. We tend to operate in a world of extremes. Our own selfish desires and beliefs help to create environments of “all or nothing.”
However, the problem with a society operating in a world of absolutes, is we lose the comradery; the thoughtful, healthy debate; the understanding; the learning and the wisdom which can be gained by taking the time and the willingness to engage each other in any kind of meaningful way.
When a farm is forced to operate facing extremes, it is enormously difficult to experience high productivity. Instead, frustration, helplessness and maybe even a bit of anger begins to set in. When a society is forced to operate with extremes, the results are no different.
While a farmer is faced with challenging weather, there is nothing that can be done to change the fact the weather will do what the weather will do. Societal extremes, however, can be controlled and can be changed.
But, it takes the willingness and open-mindedness of human beings to learn to respect, appreciate, compromise and work with others. It takes maturity and understanding to realize we can’t always get our own way all of the time.
So, the next time someone tries to pull you into the gossip chain, respectfully decline the invitation.
The next time you’re faced with road rage, remove yourself from the situation and get on with your day.
The next time you’re in a heated debate, consciously make an effort to listen to the other side, without simply reacting, and the next time you don’t get your own way, be thankful sometimes you do.
Finally, remember a farmer can’t grow his crops if it always rains or if it never rains. The best crops are the result of a variety of conditions, just like the best work in our society is done – not on the fringes, but in the middle, where a variety of influences can be implemented to create the best results.