Ice Storms, Fires, Blizzards, and Hail- Heartbreak in the Heartland

This first 5 months of 2017 has taken its toll on the 5-State area surrounding the Oklahoma Panhandle. With a devastating ice storm hitting right in the thick of calving season. “Dark Monday” and it’s 1 million (+ or -) acres burned across the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, Southwestern Kansas, and Eastern New Mexico and Colorado- which destroyed thousands of acres of grazing lands, scorched hundreds of miles of fence, multiple homes, stole 6 human’s lives and burned thousands of head of cattle and wildlife alive. A crippling April 30th blizzard which left hundreds more cattle dead in Eastern Colorado, Western Kansas and the Oklahoma Panhandle. The most recent a hail storm which carried with it baseball-softball sized hail that tore through the Oklahoma Panhandle and Northwestern Oklahoma killing calves, destroying crops which were only a few weeks shy of being harvested, as well as countless homes, vehicles, and other buildings.

But you won’t hear much about this on the news. 

The recovery process is still taking place- and will continue to take place for months. Our hearts are so full for the help and love we have received from so many agriculturist across the nation. But I would be lying if I said that each day isn’t still a challenge to keep our heads up. It’s hard to watch your life’s work go up in smoke-literally. Or watch the wheat that you have tended to and prayed would come out of damages caused by ice and and snow coupled with 60 mph winds survive just to be pounded into the ground by hail just before harvest. It’s so hard not knowing how you are going to make the equipment payment. It’s hard to have to walk through your pastures and see and even have to put down suffering animals who couldn’t escape the flames, or to pull up to your pasture ground to find your cows and calves had looked for shelter in a draw which is now covered in snow- and those mamas and babies have all suffocated- or the babies who couldn’t weather the baseball sized hail who had been literally beat to death in the night. It’s hard. It’s heartbreaking- loss of profits aside.

So today, while you go about your life- while you go to your 8-5 job with a guaranteed paycheck and little risk to your livelihood, when you go to the grocery store and notice the price of food slightly higher, remember, the places where your food comes from has been ravaged this past year. There will be a shortage- not in the “oh my gosh we can’t feed everyone and we have to ration” sense, but as compared to years past. The ranchers and farmers will struggle harder than usual to make their payments this year.

We are strong, we will rebuild, we will continue to raise our cattle, we will continue to plant our crops. We will wake up every day and continue to go to work- just like you. But our hearts and our land will take some time to heal. Remember us in your day to day activities too. 



“A farmer has to be an optimist- or he wouldn’t still be a farmer” 

Will Rogers

 

It’s “That Time” of Year Again…

This morning as I was getting ready for work, my husband says to me “I’m probably going to be late tonight… and tomorrow night… probably the next night too.” I knew it was coming. It’s “that time of year.” But it never fails- I always get just a slight sense of disappointment- and annoyance.

I know- and knew coming in to this marriage that there would be a lot of late nights and early mornings. A lot of times he would go to work before I was out of bed for the day and wouldn’t be home until long after I had gone to sleep. Deep down I know that’s just part of it- part of this glorious life we live as farmer’s and rancher’s wives. It’s hard sometimes.

As a farmer’s wife with a town job, it’s easy for me to forget just how hard my husband works to make everything work. It’s almost a knee-jerk reaction to feel like I’m doing more or that my workload is somehow unfair. It’s not. When I’m running late in the morning because I had to get myself and my child clothed and fed and out the door by 7:30 (that rarely happens) to be to work by 8 it’s so easy for me to complain in my head about how if someone would just help like put clothes on the tiny human or something, how I wouldn’t be running this late. Or when I get home from work and there are piles of laundry to be done, a floor that needs swept, mopped, or vacuumed, supper to be cooked, dishes to be cleaned, trash that needs taken out, pets that need fed, a kid that needs bathed, teeth brushed, and put to bed. And not always willingly- do any one year olds actually purposefully fall asleep?  And a million other things that really need to be done- my “poor me” attitude always shows itself. When I fall into bed and shoot him a quick goodnight text and he doesn’t respond before I am ready to go to sleep, it’s so easy for me to take on my bratty self and think to myself “well if I’m not important enough…”

It’s easy for me to forget he’s busy too. While there are days he spends the morning getting the coffee shop gossip- he makes up for it with the days he’s out on the sprayer long before dawn or on the tractor long after sunset. He spends days running here, there, and everywhere because- let’s be honest- if ever a day comes that everything goes exactly as planned on the farm…what witchcraft are you doing, and can you share? He’s planting, or spraying, or checking fields, or working on equipment, or making sales calls, or delivering product, or hauling water, or tending to cattle, or building fence, the list could go forever. It’s easy to picture a farmer as some old guy who just sits on the tractor all day going back and forth, back and forth across the fields or just sitting in their pickup gawking at their cow. It’s easy to forget that as much as farming is something they (usually) enjoy, it’s also their job.

“Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful, and most noble employment of man”

-George Washington

So, while I may slip from time to time more often than I’d like to admit I’m doing my best to remember- and be grateful for just how hard my farmer works