Usually by this time of year driving around our area is like driving through “corn tunnels” – corn on either side of the road, sometimes only “knee high” but in good years it’s practically shoulder high by this point.
There used to be the saying “knee high by the Fourth of July” and today’s corn typically exceeds that. This year things have changed. Farmers are still scrambling to get corn in the ground before insurance cutoffs; tractors are sinking, stuck to their axles just trying to mud in seed.
We finally managed to cut a bit of hay, though it did try to threaten us with some good sprinkles, but if not for a great breeze I’m not sure we would have had it dried in time. Several other hay people are watching the grass grow but aren’t able to get in to cut it – too muddy/wet – so their grass is going to seed and won’t be as nutritional or palatable. We worried for a couple months if we would completely run out of hay – the crop we bailed last year was almost gone and surrounding resources were low to out. Thankfully we found enough to get our “fatties” through until this most recent cutting. Hopefully in the next couple weeks we’ll have another window to cut more.
The other night I was driving in the dark and noticed that the corn tunnels had turned into grass tunnels. I’ve noticed that once the crop is in farmers typically go around mowing their ditches. Sometimes I think it’s for no other reason than for something “farming” to do, but other times I think they like knowing that their field and its borders look presentable. It also helps with those crop seed signs! The grass has grown so much since the farmers haven’t had a chance to even mow ditches – some of our ditches are still flooded or wet enough to get mowers stuck (has already happened to us a couple times!).
It can be nerve-wracking, driving through the grass and corn tunnels, because of the plethora of critters large and small that can jump out in front of your vehicle. I’ve encountered many a suicidal raccoon, deer, squirrel. But it can also give you that feeling of peace and solace – as if the bumpers at the bowling alley have turned into the grass along the road to help guide you to your destination. Safety boundaries. A steady path.
We finally saw a lightening bug the other night. I remembered last year we talked about how it seemed like there were more lightening bugs than we had seen in a long time. Many years ago we used to go around and catch them as kids. The last 10-20 years they seemed to have all but disappeared. We don’t really know what made them come back around, but we’re glad! Another visual memory of childhood returning.
For a while the stress in the farmer community was palpable with the relentless rain and flooding. Now, it seems as if they have just faced facts – they’ll get in what they can and hope for the best. Hopefully corn prices will rise drastically. Not good for ethanol companies, and maybe not for consumers, but farmers have to pay bills and a higher price for corn means they might get by another year.
This year has proven to give us a lot of challenges, and somehow we have managed to pull through. There were a few times we wondered, but have found a way to step back, reassess, and navigate through our “corn tunnels” to get to our destinations.
How about you – are you in the farming community and resigned to the fact that the planting season has been finalized? What are you doing to cope? Do you know of farmers in the same predicament?