I live on hope, and that I think do all who come into this world.
Robert Seymour Bridges
Yet another sleepless night where this farm girl could be seen sitting in her chair to watch the moon, and to think.
Crunch, crunch, the sound under foot reminds this girl of a sound which seems to be so long ago, now. Where crisp cool mornings would find this girl outside surrounded by naked trees deep in the bush. Where a cold east wind would blow and she would be bundled up, with a smile on her face and that sound of crunch, crunch would be heard with every step that she took. Her snowshoes would hit the ground as she followed deer tracks in the snow. Seasons, as per usual have changed, many things have changed.
The crunch, crunch that comes from beneath her feet these days would be the grass that cries for rain. The pasture, where cows wander more than usual, and are left to wonder where all the green had gone, lay before them. The leaves, on those same naked trees, which had been so lush and green, not too long ago, are now wilted and waiting with curled leaves. They are ready to catch the rain that has not come in far too long.
The hay has all been baled and brought home. The counter on the round baler reads 370. With no forecast of any rain in the distant future, there will probably not be a second crop. We may be in trouble. We are now feeding the left over hay from last year. The last rain on this farm was over a month ago. That was a good rain, a needed rain, but it came with high winds, hail and lots of damage.
I walked slowly across the grass as I listened to that crunch with a cool jug of water. My Hero had been outside working in the heat. It was almost comfortable, for a girl not working. At 28 degrees Celsius very early in the morning and forecasts of 41 degrees Celsius with the humidity, he had started his day at first light. He had been gone for four hours. I watched him work, from my spot in the kitchen. Guilt, for not being out there seems to be a wasted emotion these days because I cannot help him, and it has to be done. There is good news, I am healing so next year there is hope. There is always hope.
Those sixteen panels of fence that had blown down during that storm over a month ago had to be replaced. Our rotation of pasture land is not even an option at this stage in the drought. Our cows wander where ever they like. Hay bales, sit in the field behind the house so that I can see them, and count them and keep a close eye on them. They always come back to it after repeatedly trying to find those strips of green they used to find and savour that are no more.
The water holes have been holding up, barely. With no rain forecast in the future there have been ideas thrown around. Words like drilling, digging and the one that is not going to happen unless we get pushed into a corner, selling. Oh yes that is a word that sits in the back of my mind. My Hero, ever the optimist will not even mention that word. It runs through my head over and over. It scares me, and I know it would be so difficult for My Hero and me to have to go through that again. Yes we have been there before.
We are not alone it looks like many countries are in the same boat. “Boat,” would imply water, there is none falling it seems anywhere right now. Temperatures are hitting record highs on both sides of our borders. Memories of watching the news, years ago, where farmers were lined up to sell cattle are still stuck in the memories of most farmers.
There were no buyers, or very few, so the prices were rock bottom. No one had a choice but to sell. The difference back then was that on the other side of the country, there were still rich pastures and lots of hay so they were the still buying the cows. This year, this drought problem, seems to be widespread. That is not a good thing. The crops in the fields around here are struggling. The soybean and corn are shrivelling, with colours of yellow and brown most without beans or corn on them. They are dying.
We shall take care of our cows and get through this the best we can. We must never guess about the future. Life has many twists and turns and you just never know what is right around the next bend.
To all my fellow farmers out there take care, and do not give up hope. We have been here before, and we will get through it once again.
It has rained a few times. The trees hold out their curled leaves and look up to the sky. I think of Oliver Twist and imagine them saying, “More please” and I am sure it will come. Yes, it will.