These thoughts were prompted by two things:
1) Our ongoing drought and recent rain.
There are many things that keep farmers up at night.
Some of the things that keep me up are:
Wolves howling nearby.
Coyotes yipping nearby.
Our livestock guardian dog responding to the above.
Overwhelming to-do lists.
My young daughters looking for comfort.
Random unfounded worries about the breaker tripping for our greenhouse/brooder/freezers.
My own mind.
Only a few of those things could be dealt with. Most of them are just part of the job. Or part of nature.
Basically, farming involves living in close proximity and at the mercy of many things you cannot control. Truth be told, we all live that way. Your secure job could fold tomorrow. You could get in a bad car accident later today. Seemingly random things can hit us out of nowhere at any time.
But for some reason, with farming it is very very obvious. Perhaps more obvious than with other occupations. We all know the weather twists and turns and does unpredictable things. We all assume that plants and animals and earthworms are a bit mysterious. The farmer just seems so small out in his field surrounded by that chaotic and dangerous thing called "nature."
It's also front and center for entrepreneurs and small business owners. So when you're an entrepreneur starting a small farm business.... well. yeah.
But like I said before, I'm not convinced that us farmers ARE any more at risk then the rest of the population. Unpredictable things happen all the time for all kinds of people. Its almost the only predictable thing. Everyone's seen that in spades this year. No one can be in complete control of life's events. And in fact, there are plenty of ways in which our life seems stable and secure (that's a fantasy!). Maybe us farmers just can't shield ourselves from it as easily--we can't look away.
Farming involves dancing with the uncertain. We have to know and watch and in the end love the things we can't control.
At night when the wolves are howling, and the wind is whipping, its hard to see anything else. But its only a slice of the picture!
There's also great magic in farming, and we get a front row seat to it!
Like moon light on wet leaves after a long drought!
What will all the drama of farming do to me? Will it break me and make me cynical and tough? Or will it melt my heart with wonder and awe and enliven me? Will I be killed or enlivened?
Sometimes I'm not sure. But I suppose that's the stretching--if you were sure of the outcome, there would be no tension, and without tension there is no growth.
I choose growth. Which means I choose tension.
(But please Lord--don't let it be too much tension!)