It’s hard to believe that harvest is right around the corner, especially considering the view right now from my office window. It’s currently 40 degrees and raining, and we haven’t turned a wheel yet. 2019 harvest is already shaping up to be one that could test our patience, which seems only fitting for a season that has been trying for so many farmers since the beginning. Even in trying times, farmers persevere. The pride that farmers take in their crops is unlike anything else. Most people will never understand it, and it can’t be explained in any way other than ‘living it.’ It’s important to remember how lucky, and hopefully grateful we are to be able to do this job. I can’t think of anything else I would rather do. Of course, like most jobs, certain times of the year can be long and difficult. There’s always uncertainty of how your crop will produce, and what mother nature intends can certainly add to the intensity, but the quality of life on a farm seems to me, to far outweigh any of the negatives that come with this profession.
In recent years, I’ve received a lot of comments on social media about how increasingly difficult our harvest seems each year. I might be relatively young and have seen a lot fewer harvest years than others in my industry, but the reality is, I have witnessed and experienced much more difficult harvests than in recent years, long before I was ever on social media and documenting them. One of my Dad’s ‘favorite’ memories is lying underneath his cone-bottom wet bin on December 21st, 1995 (his birthday) in freezing weather and reaching in the cone to break apart wet, rotten corn to try to get the high moisture kernels to flow. There was also the year he had pneumonia during harvest and spent long nights harvesting barley to get one truckload of grain. The market price at the time was $1.00/bu. Talk about a morale boost! Certainly, harvest is never ‘easy,’ but I do remember a few (fairly recent) harvests that seemed like a breeze compared to any other. I remember telling Dad a few years ago that it seemed like “one day the crop was in the field ready for harvest, and just a few 70 degree days later it was in the grain bins.” Just as quickly as you tend to the soil and get the seed planted and in the ground, you are then harvesting that seed and turning it something bigger than you can imagine.
Of course, we all know that at times, farming can also be a lonely, secluded job, and it can seem like the rest of the world wouldn’t understand the specific struggles we see or experience. Dealing with financial uncertainty year over year can be emotionally straining on yourself, and your family. One thing that goes without saying is the resilience of farmers and their communities. During these challenging times, I have to encourage those who may be experiencing hardship, or if you find yourself needing to talk to someone, to reach out and do it. If you’re not sure who to talk to, there are rural mental health counselors available who have a lot of experience with helping farmers deal with a wide number of challenges. These resources are available for farmers, and there should be no shame in using them. I have listed some here in this article as added resources for those in need.
Whatever this harvest season throws at your farm, please remember there is never anything more important than coming home safely to your family every night. Here’s wishing you a safe and successful harvest season, no matter what we have to endure.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture, The Minnesota Farmers Assistance Network (MFAN), provides business and financial guidance to farm families on a variety of topics.
Minnesota Farm and Rural Helpline The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is available for farmers and their families 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free and confidential.
Toll- Free 1-833-600-2670
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Available The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, and prevention and crisis resources.
For more information on the MN Millennial Farmer, please see our related blog posts below.