Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2014 In the Rearview Mirror

I can’t believe we are closing the chapter on another year. I remember “older” people telling me how fast the years had flown past and at the time I am not sure I believed them. Boy do I believe them now that I am one of those “older” people. I find it scary just how fast time seems to pass these days, 2014 seems like a blur.
All in all, I suppose 2014 was not that bad of a year. Sure it had its trials and tribulations most assuredly things did not go as I had planned them. We started out with a cold, snowy winter, lambing was one of the toughest we have ever had; I sure hope we don’t have a repeat of that for a long time. Calving season, on the other hand, had its moments. There were those times when I was standing in a howling wind, knee deep in snow, wondering what I was doing. However, for the most part calving season went fairly well and we got along pretty good, minus a few ears.
Planting and getting cattle out to grass flew past us in a flash. I am sure there was anxiety and stress, but it did seem to go along without any real big hitches. Haying plodded along but it was certainly much easier than the year before. What we lacked in quantity was made up in quality and the lighter hay also made for less stress on man and machine alike. I do know that the cows seem to like the 2014 vintage hay much better than the 2013.
The crops grew and looked very promising, that is for the first half of the summer. It seemed as though the rain was coming at the right time and in the right amounts. The corn looked much the same as it did in 2013 and then it happened. We were one rain short of having another great corn crop, but the soybeans were a different story. Just at the most critical time, our rain shut down and the heat started up. Then as all hope for the crop was almost lost, the rain started again. We may not have had record soybean yields but we did have a crop and for that I am grateful.
Fall came and with it harvest. I know each harvest is different and each has its own challenges, but this harvest was truly one of a kind. First we waited for crops to dry down, it seemed as though we spent a month or better test cutting, checking and re-checking the moisture. I know the running joke at the elevator was that I was going to bring our corn crop to town one coffee can at a time. Then, when you did find dry grain, it was often short lived. The next field or the next variety might still be too wet.
Rain came and we hit the pause button on harvest, which was probably a good thing. When it resumed, the corn was dry. Then there were the soybeans. I have never, ever seen a crop dry down so unevenly. Pods would be dry but the leaves and stems would be green. I walked along behind the combine, watching the green fodder come out. There was often a good bit of anxiety that came along with each truck load that went to town, but the moisture was always well within  the tolerable range even if the price was not.
Harvest stretched out long enough that panic about getting cows home from summer grass, weaning calves and getting their mommas out on stock started to set in. While there was much grumping and growling, the calves got weaned and their mommas got to eat leftover corn. All was well, especially after they went through the sale ring. The calf check kind of made you forget about the cold weather and snow. I suppose that is how it is supposed to be.
Well, that is my 2014 in review. I know some of you had better crops, some had less rain and poorer crops. For those with better, I am happy for you, for those with poorer, next year has to be better. Some of my fellow sheep herders probably had very successful lambing seasons and some of my fellow cowboys had a tougher time calving. Farming and ranching is certainly a variable enterprise and nothing is certain. Well, almost nothing. The only thing I know for certain is that none of us would trade what we do for any other occupation. Well, that and the undying optimism that 2015 will be even bette

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