Tinker Bell, the Suffolk ewe, is very near lambing and I have to admit I am worried. She is Ike’s old show ewe and one of the best we have ever owned. That means if any ewe will have trouble lambing or if something weird is going to happen, it will happen to her. I hold my breath each time I open the barn door to check on her. Tinker Bell does not share my concern and often meets me with a look of bored contentment.
Worrying is something I do quite well. I seem to worry about everything, maybe it is just part of being a farmer. Right now I am worried about the drought. Will we get enough rain to fill the ponds? Will we get enough precipitation to grow the grass we need this spring? Will we have enough soil moisture to produce a crop? I am obsessed with the weather and often watch two different forecasts and check three weather sites on-line. Can I do anything about the weather? No, but that does not stop me from worrying.
I also spend a lot of time worrying about the markets, especially when the weather gives me something to sell. Similar to the weather I check the prices and market news in several different places. There is a bit of euphoria when the market is going up and a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when the market drops. Much like the weather my worrying does nothing but keep anti-acid manufacturers in business.
This winter I paced by the windows worrying about the calves as the snow came down. I worried about whether I had put enough hay out and if they had a place to get out of the wind. This summer I will worry each time I see a flash of lightening. I know, at that point, there is nothing I can do to protect my cattle, but that doesn’t stop me from staring out the window and, worrying.
Of course there are many other worries. Little nagging thoughts like; did we plant the right hybrids, will the interest rates go up, will the tractor start, and the big one, are the cows out? You know the kind of thoughts that go through your head about 1:00 at night. The kind of little worries that cause me to lose beauty sleep (and I have obviously lost a lot of beauty sleep over the years).
I also tend to worry about laws and regulations. What monkey wrench will the EPA, USDA, KDHA, or some other alphabet soup agency come up with to trip us up? I do what I think is best and try to do things the right way, but is there some rule I am missing? Will this fiscal cliff or sequestration cause the economy to crash? I know it is really silly to worry about the government; it makes more sense to worry about the weather.
Then there are the kids. A great deal of my worrying time is spent worrying about my kids. Are they happy? Do they have everything they need? How are we going to pay for college? Did Ike find his coat? Did Tatum finish all of her homework? All legitimate worries and the worst part is that I don’t have a driver yet. Soon the worry will be multiplied each time the car leaves the driveway.
So why do I worry if there is nothing I can do about most what I concern myself about? I guess it is human nature; the early caveman had to worry about getting eaten or freezing during the ice age. We had to learn how to worry to survive. We also learn to worry from our parents. I remember Mom and Dad worrying about whether I had lost my coat (I guess some things never change). Then throw in farming and I guess worrying is in my DNA. To quote Buck Owens, “It just comes naturally.”
I have also come to the realization that I tend to worry about the things in my life that mean the most to me. My family, friends and my way of life, all of the things I care the most about. If I did not have all the blessings I have in my life, I would not worry or care so much. Maybe worry is a good thing, a sign that I have many good things in my life. Those good things even include the very pregnant and ever worrisome Tinker Bell.