Growing up in the mid-1970s brought more than bad clothes, hair, and music. In my part of the Mid-West, it also brought several years of little rain. It was a drought which hit farmers square in the face with little control to change the situation and only challenges to address. The trials were more than financial, although the end result translated into less crops, less money. Decisions needed to be made – what do we do with our cattle when there is little to feed them in the summer months or in the coming winter? What do we plant the next year, given the previous year produced little? What can we cut back on in order to weather the lack of storms?
There was no running from the drought. It had to be addressed. The weather could not be controlled, although there were efforts to seed the clouds in hopes it would produce rain. The decisions came down to sell, ship, buy, cut, or quit. In other words:
- Sell the cattle because feed was scarce. Selling would be at a reduced rate, since farmers and ranchers in the area had to deal with the same situation.
- Ship the cattle to another state where rain still occurred and pastures could be rented.
- Buy hay from other areas for the winter, so you could hang on for another year in hopes of rain happening then. Re-building herds was not an easy or cheap task.
- Cut expenses where ever possible. Since extravagant spending was never the norm, this only went so far.
- Quit… run and try to do something else, somewhere else. As you would maybe imagine, there are not many job opportunities for former farmers.
We all are confronted with decisions which hit us in the face, straight-on. Some may have more variables to control or manipulate; others may not lend itself too much control. Quitting is always an option, although it really does not buy you much in the end.
What do we do with the droughts that may occur in our lives? The droughts in our lives may be unsatisfying jobs, challenging marriages, problematic kids, uncertain finances… We face these “cotton-mouth” experiences in which everything has no flavor or is dry, or those situations which we just don’t know how best to handle.
We can take the approach of some and wager on a mystical method of making rain happen. Seeding clouds was that option during the mid-west drought, betting on making the clouds sneeze rain. Placing our faith or decisions on something untried or sounds-to0-good-to-be-true methods is an option.
Or, we can deal with the situation as best we can with what we can.
It seems that, many times, our first reaction is take the mystical or easier way. It seems less painful, more hopeful. In the end, unrealistic… Reality has a funny way of staring us down, and there is nowhere to run around it, over it, or under it – you have to go through it.
That is one of the things that I love about farming. It creates realities which need to be faced square on, and there is so much strength in faith that needs to be present. They put aside the elements which are uncontrollable and make decisions based on what they can control.
We can learn so much about how they live and try to apply the same principles in our own urban lives. Prolonging decisions is not an option. Trying to control what we cannot is juvenile. We have to do something with our realities. We have to act, and the actions need to be considered thoughtfully and practically.