A Hat-Tip To Farmers. Why Do They Keep Battling Against All Odds? Just Be Glad They Do… – George Thatcher. (Pray For Rain)

Brought to you in part by The Shropshire Agency. Locally owned and independent, just like West Texans. 65 years and growing, working for you and your business!

Why do They Keep Farming?

Despite all the vagaries of weather on the South Plains, it’s good to be back home again. I had taken a short trip to Omaha, NE, to attend a family funeral, and it was a joyful celebration of life, in which the deceased was finally freed from the surly bonds of illness. Rest in peace, dear Sister.

During my stay in that fast-growing metropolis, the symptoms of my West Texas allergies took a breather (pun intended) and I put aside the Mucinex and nasal inhalers, enjoying the brief freedom from drainage, coughing and sneezing to the fullest. Did they return when I did? Yes, and with new vigor. It’s like they have a special punishment for escapees who are recaptured. But despite that minor inconvenience, it’s still a great place to have settled.

What I noted most during each leg of that 1,800 mile trip, was the state of the land I traversed. Once away from the South Plains and Panhandle, the scenery took an almost magical turn. Fields had been prepared and planted, and the growing season was already in full swing. Even in still-chilly Nebraska, the lakes and streams had plenty of water flowing, and farming activity was evident everywhere I went. The locals claim it had been a dry spring, up until last week that is. Then the rains came, and as I started for home again, it was coming down in buckets. It rained all through Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma, and the prevailing wind should have been bringing that weather system our way. So far, that hasn’t been the case, as the area’s high pressure system is stubbornly resisting any kind of change that would bring us relief from our continued drought.

So today I’m tipping my Stetson to this land’s farmers, who have lived through more bad harvests than those of less sterling constitutions could have endured. Season after season, they pray for spring rains that would put enough moisture in the ground to enable new seeds to sprout. In a good year, like the season just passed, these stalwart individuals can reap a bountiful harvest, pay off some debt, and maybe even buy a new pickup. Ironically, last year there were few new pickups to be had, due to manufacturers’ shortages of critical components. This year, going clear back to last December, there hasn’t been an appreciable amount of moisture locally. Combined with the high winds of March and April, there have been record numbers of windstorms, the choking, blinding, pore-clogging kinds that assure those susceptible (read: almost all of us) will also suffer in record numbers from the accompanying allergens.

I’m hearing from many sources that if we don’t get substantial rains in the next few weeks, it’s all over for this year’s dryland cotton endeavors. That ominous possibility, combined with the steady drop in our aquifer levels, is enough to make the faint of heart cobble together whatever cash they can, and run for Las Vegas. I only hope they’re aware that the house always wins.

Turning to a related subject, did you ever wonder why farm and ranch people tend to live longer than us flabby city folk? Charles Darwin can’t exactly take credit for the facts of longevity, but he did define the phenomenon of “survival of the fittest,” by which the slowest and weakest among us will perish in adverse conditions. We note wryly that the “Darwin Awards” are being conferred on those who prove their inability to live in a world where you have to work hard to survive. Admit it now, you’ve done a hundred dumb things that would qualify you for an award. But since we’re ALL guilty to some extent, I won’t be casting any stones. What’s missing from Darwin’s theory, in my view, is that random component called “luck,” or even “chance.” Why should some of us dumbshits survive our stupidity in spite of ourselves, while others are selected for weeding out. In my case, I’ll give credit to Irish Luck for helping me escape my own folly.

Returning to the topic at hand, here’s a final question barrage: Why, in spite of all the risk, danger, chances of failure, and hazards to health, do farmers and ranchers continue to charge, year after year, at that elusive windmill called success? Is it because of the pure joy of being your own boss, working in the clean country air, or the satisfaction that only comes with the knowledge that, once in a while, you’ve beaten the odds and come out ahead? Is there a special camaraderie among country people? By virtue of their solid devotion to a faith in the Higher Power, do they feel blessed to do what they do? Are they happier than us avaricious urbanites because they’ve learned to “make do” with what God and the land have provided? Or, are they hanging on until some corporate farming operation buys them out, at a price that will ensure a comfortable retirement? I confess to having heard all these propositions, and I still don’t have the answer.

But I’m sure of this single fact: that the farmer/rancher stands between us and a return of humankind to the caves and trees. Whatever their motivations and convictions, I can only wish I had even a small amount of their courage.

George Thatcher, 2022

George is an American Bad Ass. He grew up in Jersey, flew B-52s in Vietnam, taught English, Spanish and other languages to children around the world, makes his own salsa, has been known to enjoy a beer or two and has called Lubbock home for a few years, just to entertain the locals. Welcome to Raiderland, Major. We are going to feature some of his writings going forward. Some new, some old. Some rhyme, some don’t. When it comes to George, there’s no box. So… enjoy our friend and enjoy his writings! – Hyatt