The saying "you win some, you lose some" has never applied to any career quite so well as farming. Unfortunately, it is looking like it is going to be one of those not so great years for a lot of us farmers. To be clear, I am not sharing this for sympathy. When you start farming, you've got to know that things won't turn out perfect every year. Having both grown up on farms, Brett and I understand this. We knew going in that some years you get too much rain, others you don't get enough. A lot of years you get hail and have to watch the crop you put so much time and money into, get broken and beaten by mother nature.
That being said - even though we know that more often than not you don't get the perfect weather - it has been hard watching our first crops under our own farming company go from beautiful and flourishing to broken stems, bleached seeds (by too much rain) and cracked shells. That beautiful mustard crop in the picture above (probably one of the best that Brett and his dad have grown) got hit by hail a couple of weeks ago and was estimated at over 60% loss (some of our other crops faired better, thank goodness). I know that seeing this happen has been harder on Brett than on myself. After all, other than the money we have tied up in these crops, Brett has the time and work investment. He is the one who put in 16 hour days seeding and he is the one who missed out on fun stuff because he had to spray and scout for weeds, disease and bugs.
There is so much criticism of farmer's nowadays. It seems like the whole world has an opinion on what we do - from "anti-GMO" to "organic only" to "anti corporate farming". If you are of one of those opinions, I am not here to tell you it is wrong. I just want to give people some perspective on the people behind the farms. Yes, we use some genetically modified seed varieties, but we also grow a lot from seed we grew the previous year. Yes, we spray and fertilize, but we only do so when absolutely necessary. Yes, our farm is a "corporation", but it has been family owned for over 100 years. But despite all of this, we have the same heartbreak that the farmer using no GMO's and no spray or fertilizer has when the crop that had so much money and so many hours of work put into it, doesn't end up being what we hoped. All in all, we are just people trying to feed our families and keep the lights on - while also trying to feed your family at the same time. The pasta you are eating might have come from the durum of southern Saskatchewan, the margarine you are eating could have come from our canola, maybe the mustard on your kid's sandwich did too.
Brett and I are so blessed, because we have insurance and two sets of parents who would do everything they could to help us out if this year got really ugly. But there are a lot of farmers out there who probably aren't so lucky. There is a good reason behind why so many farmer's suffer from depression and mental illness - this can be a stressful way to live your life. And there are lots of farmers running their business on operating loans who won't be able to make their payments this year because they got too much rain, or not enough - or because they didn't get enough in July and got way too much at the end of August.
The next time you hear or see something saying that all farmer's who aren't running an organic, non-GMO operation are bad and don't deserve support, try to remember that we are just people doing our best. And if you are the praying type, could you say one for all the farmers to get their crops off in a safe and timely manner? We'd sure appreciate it.
I hope this post could lend some perspective; or, if you are a farmer/farmer's wife going through something similar, know that you aren't alone.