Day Writing: Heavy Times
It’s either pessimistic optimism, or optimistic pessimism. Whichever way you want to call it, we’re operating heavily on it this spring.
We’ve been reducing cow numbers for two years now. The replacement heifer bunch is small this spring – we aren’t building any numbers back. What we have left are a young, uniform set of cows that are nice to be around. And one lump jaw, because she was bred last fall and worth absolutely nothing. And two of my old “antiques” from Wyoming, who know a thing or two about surviving in a drought. Those aside, anyone who has even looked at us cross-eyed, or shown a remotely long tooth in the last 18-months is gone.
The hay corral is dwindling. There is zero sympathy that the cows are eating two- and three- year old hay. Unless things start changing radically, there will also be zero sympathy that whatever cows are left next spring will be eating three- and four-year old hay.
The Cheyenne River, our source of irrigation, is extremely low. Fires have been prevalent all winter, with half-hearted joking that it’s a good thing the pastures are so grazed off with the extreme winds that always seem to accompany the flames.
It snowed a little earlier this week. We were plumb excited just to see the dirt stop blowing around, and instead watch snow blow around for a day or two. Pretty sure whatever caught in the bar ditches and the north side of buildings at our place fell out of the sky a couple hundred miles to the north.
If we look beyond our little slice of earth, things don’t get a whole lot rosier. High inputs, poor government leadership, worldwide chaos. It gets heavy, fast.
I have likely mentioned this little story before, but it always comes to mind in times like this. My great grandmother, Dora Lincoln, lived west of Manville when she was younger, raising a family. I cannot recall the specifics at the moment, but at one time the government sent people to the west to shoot and bury cattle, in an effort to rally prices. All the cattle.
But, somehow, my great-grandmother, who was 4’11” and weighed less than 100 pounds, convinced them to leave one alive. Her family then butchered that cow, harvested their entire garden, and made canned stew. Which they then lived on for I don’t know how long.
While it is hard right now, I can honestly say my life isn’t that hard. Not even close. And while the world has changed since that time, the aspects that matter most have not.
Faith and family should still rise to the top, and give us all reason to be thankful, and optimistic.
While that may be easier said than done, it doesn’t make it any less true. I don’t know the answers for our own operation going forward, and certainly have no idea what to say to encourage and help others in the decisions they all face.
Here’s what I do know. My great grandmother lived to over 100 years of age. She survived the times of difficulty that God placed in her life, and if we all lean into Him, we will as well. Perhaps not in the way we imagined, and in some cases not with the outcome we had hoped, but it will be in the way that was intended by our Creator. And all the worry in the world won’t change that outcome.
So, I am purposely working to convert may ample worries into prayer, for both ourselves and others, while we all wait to see what this year delivers, and the resulting outcomes for each of us.
Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls –
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.
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HURON, S.D. – Each summer South Dakota Farmers Union (SDFU) seeks out exceptional individuals to aid the organization in its summer youth education efforts.