2019 was a year of pains. Mother Nature topped the list with her ever-unpredictable ways. During my 30 some years as a “farm kid” (I’m forever a farm kid, right?) and now the latest 10 years as a farm wife, I’ve learned you can’t plan for anything and when you do, plan on your plans getting changed. It was too wet, then too dry, with a slow and muddy finish with disappointment all around and thru. Yes, farm life brings pains, but so do many other professions, lifestyles and this period of life known as “adulting”. Farming isn’t unique to this, right? At least this is what I tell myself so I don’t feel like a whiner—because, in our house, no whining allowed. Even the littlest farmer, just under three years, is scolded for whining in our home.
Our farmer, Andrew, and I celebrated our 10th year of marriage this year, 2019. It was epic, just like the year we were married 2009 (the year we did harvest in snow) and 2012 the year of the historic drought. I told Andrew, “Surely this is it, right? Three historic farming years out of our 10? We’re good?!” To which Andrew laughed and said (hopefully as a joke and not a prophecy) that “maybe our marriage is going to be 30% historic!” He might be right. I’m sorry to say that future certainty and easy comfort is not the case, I’m sure there are more historic events to come. We’re farming in a new day and as one of our beloved University of Illinois professors, who is also our popcorn mentor titled his recent Christmas letter, “ Heralding another kind of climate change. These days, we wonder what we and/or other forces are doing to our environment. We grow concerned by predictions and reports of rising temperatures, melting ice lands, rising seas, changing precipitation patterns, more droughts, more heatwaves. The list goes on.” While there is a debate about climate change in agriculture, his last point is easy to find consensus on. Yes, the list goes on, full of a whole bunch of pains.
Yes, 2019 brought a whole lot of pains. But we, in our personal lives don’t have to be pains ourselves—nor do we have to remain focused on them or imprisoned by them. The famous Maya Angelou included this statement about having pains but not being one. That quote relates so well to life, including farm life that it hangs in our dining room. Sure, 2019 brought us great pains, pains we’re going to feel for a while, but we’re resilient, recognize it could be worse and accept that challenges make us tougher for the long-run—character builders they call them? More to the point, maybe these pains give us a true appreciation for the things that matter most. Or a job well done. Or something yet to be discovered. It’s a bit of a paradox but everyone whose been an athlete (or hounded in gym class at the least) can sum it up “no pain, no gain.”
2020 is here—we’re two days in. Plans are already in the works. Crop plans are being formulated, goals being set, strategies in place to make the most of what this new decade will bring us. Thanks for hanging with us, sharing our specialty, hull-less popcorn and working through the pains.