For Real This Time

Aug 30, 2012 by

Harvest started yesterday!  Yay!

What some of you might not realize is that this is exceptionally early for harvest.  Normally, farmers (popcorn-picking farmers) aren’t in the field until September.  I know that’s only a few days away now but, considering some of our neighbors started picking early last week, this is a really big deal.

The reason harvest is so early this year is completely related to the weather.  I don’t think most suburban people recognize that weather patterns really do affect us ALL YEAR.  The fact is, central Illinois had a very mild (read: warm) winter.  So while the urban dwellers rejoiced over the lack of snow and the resulting stress-free drive to work, farmers started worrying about how the higher temps would affect them for the rest of the year.  Maybe that sounds nutty but it turns out that they were right to worry.

The warm winter affected farmers in the following ways:

-Major fluctuations in the ag markets (corn, beans, hogs, etc.) due to hugely varying predictions on what the weather would do to the crops/livestock.  This made it much more difficult to determine when to sell your crops and for what price.

-Typical freezing winter temperatures obviously affect the insect population.  Since we didn’t have those normal cold temps, we had an influx of bugs.  An influx of bugs means changes in how much and what type of insecticides we use.

-Lack of cold temps also meant planting season started much earlier than usual.

-An unusually hot summer LAST year meant we ran irrigators really hard right before last year’s harvest.  The warm winter THIS year meant planting season started much earlier, which meant irrigations had to run much earlier.  Those two combined meant irrigators broke a LOT more this year.

-Broken irrigators plus another unusually hot and dry summer meant crops weren’t able to get the water they needed, at the times they needed it.

-Crops not getting water…well, I think we all know what that means.  (Just in case: Less crops and livestock to go around.  That means higher prices in the corn market, which means more expensive gas and more expensive food because corn is in a lot of food products.  More expensive meat because corn is part of the diet of most livestock.  Basic supply and demand.  Oh, and we’re supposed to feed most of the world.  No big deal.)

 

Overall, this weather pattern, so far, has meant more money spent, more stress on the farmers and their families, a likely much lower-than-average yield and, well, a lot of not-so-good things.

BUT there has been one upside to it all.  Harvest will be over EARLY!

My birthday is November 4th (schedule your cake and flower deliveries now to avoid the rush) and, often times, I spend it at home with my dog, or in a combine, working with my husband well past dark.  This year, however, I’m turning 30.  And yes, it’s silly, but I was really hoping to spend it with my husband and family for once.  On my actual birthday.  Not a week later, on a random Wednesday, or just when nobody has other plans.

THIS year, we are going back to good old Columbia, Missouri for a football game at my alma mater, Mizzou, and to show Adam around my old drinking stomping grounds.  I haven’t been back since my graduation in 2005.  (How can that be possible?  Shit, I’m old.)

(Photo credit: missouri.edu)

See, harvest and football season are always at the exact same time, so I haven’t had a chance to visit in seven years.  I have, however, had recurring nightmares, literal actual nightmares, that the bookstore has quit carrying my favorite Mizzou products, ever since I left Columbia.  (#firstworldproblems)  So, point is, going back is a BFD for me.  I can’t wait and I’m so so so excited that Adam will be done working (Sort of.  A farmer’s work is NEVER done, trust me.)  early enough to come with me!

YAY HARVEST!

 

 

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