Saturday, June 22, 2013

What Ever It Takes

It is amazing how rain can change one’s outlook on life. Right now we are mowing some of the best brome hay we have ever baled and the grass in the pastures is really growing. It is really easy to get excited about the prospects for this upcoming harvest. Well, it would be if we hadn’t had a couple of drought years ahead of this spring. I still watch the long range forecast with great apprehension, knowing this welcome rainfall could shut off at anytime.

I also hesitate to discuss rainfall because so many of my friends in other places south and west of me are still mired in drought conditions. They have endured several more years of it and the situation is becoming even more desperate. Just this week a good friend of mine from New Mexico posted online that he and his father had a conversation about the financial toll. He stated that his father said that he did not have any more money to put into saving the ranch. My friend said that he did not have any more money either, but would figure something out.
He went on to say that he debated posting this but thought it was important to show everyone the level of dedication and passion he and his fellow producers shared. I want to share the following quote from that post. “Bottom line, I will (save the ranch). Because those of us in ag will do WHAT EVER IT TAKES to hold on. We will do whatever it takes to feed the world. You may not agree with our "methods" (organic/non organic) but you DANG sure should never question our motive!!!” I read those words and lay awake in bed that night, thinking about my friend, his family and his ranch.
My friend is a good man; he is hard working and God fearing. He, his father and every generation before them have put gallons of blood, sweat and tears into building what they have. They have endured hard times before and come out stronger on the other side, and if I were a betting man I would say that is what they will do this time around also. But this is one of the most serious threats they have faced with no end in sight. It is a very real possibility that the drought may outlast them and generations of work will be gone. My heart aches for my friend and his family.
Many people outside of agriculture might wonder, why not leave it? Cash in, find a more stable income, get weekends and holidays off, a guaranteed retirement, and most of all less stress. The answer is a simple one and one that few people outside of the fraternity of farmers and ranchers understand. Our farms and ranches are more than a business, they are more than an investment and they are more than land, buildings, machinery and livestock. 
I have never seen my friend’s ranch. We met through Farm Bureau and spent many evenings after meetings talking about our places. While I have never been to his ranch I can picture it because of the stories he has told me. His passion and love of the land he calls home come through the minute you meet him. In that aspect he is no different than any other farmer or rancher I have ever met. Our passion, vocation and heritage are all rolled into one.
I cannot imagine what he is going through. I am the fifth generation on our farm; I know I feel a sense of responsibility to the generations who came before me and an obligation to the generations to come. I know my friend feels the same about his ranch. This is what I wish  those who question the motives of farmers and ranchers could meet my friend. I do not think they can comprehend the level of personal investment each of us have in what we do. Each of us feels a sense of pride about who we are and what we do.
All I can do is pray that the weather patterns will change and my friend will get the rain he needs so desperately. Offer a shoulder to lean on an ear to talk to.  I can also make sure that his story is told and his passion for agriculture is shared. While I am not sure when it will rain again in New Mexico, I am sure my friend will still be there to see the ranch green up.

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