Through their Lens: Robyn and Larry Koelling |

Through their Lens: Robyn and Larry Koelling

From an interview with editor Maria Tibbetts.

Ord, Nebraska 

August 12, 2019 

We’ve never seen so much rain in our whole life. 

 It didn’t stop with the bomb cyclone—it just continues.  

We keep thinking if it would straighten out, you could make plans and adjust, get things to somewhere normal. We’re on plan E and F. 

Everything’s a question.  

We continue to get a lot of rain—it’s like a waterfall. The bridges are up to the very top. So you make adjustments.  

I won’t send you the pictures of piles of dead calves. A lot of cows ended up abandoning their calves. Our neighbor had 120 bucket calves. They knew the storm was coming so they took the calves off the cows to put them in shelter. The cows wouldn’t take them back. It’s so unusual. Everything is not as it should be. 

There’s no capacity in any of the dams. Either they totally filled up or washed out. Some of them don’t even have water sometimes, and now they’re 20 feet deep. The soil has no more holding capacity; it’s totally saturated. Any rain we get runs off. There’s no place for it to go. 

It’s taking a lot longer to do things than it used to. Everybody’s in the same boat. It’s just difficult with all the rain  

We got maybe 60 percent of our fields planted altogether. We were planning on getting more corn in. Then you shift over to beans. When you didn’t get the beans in you plant the sunflowers or something. We can’t plant the forage sorghum. Now we’re at rye. If we keep on like this, we’ll be back at wheat this fall. You throw your hands up and say enough’s enough.  

We don’t have to irrigate the corn we did get in. 

It’s disheartening. We’ve never had to deal with something like this.  

You talk to the neighbors, some are really down and you try to encourage them, help them look at the good things in life. It won’t be this way forever. There are good things that can come from it.  

Financially, it’s pretty straining. Older farmers have made it through a lot of tough times, some younger ones haven’t gone through those. Younger ones who haven’t gone through that, don’t know how to get out of it. You market different. Plant something different. There are a lot of different options. Gloom and doom is all they can see. Bankers are saying they can’t go with you, mostly for the younger ones. If you made it through the ’80s it kept that generation out of trouble. You don’t expose yourself to that kind of risk if you can help it. Sometimes an expansion has taken place, and if you do that at the wrong time, it will catch you. 

There are good things, you just have to count every day. Sometimes you have to back up and not look at the big picture, but look at the smaller picture. There are little blessings that come by every day. If you look for them, you’ll see them. You have to change your focus on some things and count the little things that are positive. We’re trying to see those things, and not be overwhelmed by the bigger picture that can look pretty bleak, but concentrate on the little things that are positive and build on those. 

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