I don’t consider myself to have a depressive personality. I tend to be even-keeled and don’t enjoy euphoric highs or suffer debilitating lows in my moods. I can rationalize and absorb most things. Sooner or later, I can see the “silver lining” in bad news.
But I find myself being tested. Regular readers will know that my husband and I farm. Anyone who’s been paying attention will know that, for much of Alberta, 2016 was the harvest from hell?with nearly half the crop not getting picked up. We were among those who didn’t finish combining. To be clear, last year’s crop needs to be either combined, burned, or plowed under to seed the new crop. To make an insurance claim, you must combine it.
Then a few weeks ago we got about five inches of wet snow. Finally, last week, we attempted to combine a field of canola. We had to leave undone large areas that are under water. We had to leave parts of swaths where we were getting stuck with the combines. We had to have our largest tractor in the field to pull out the combines that sank to their axles. We had to travel long distances across the field with a half full hopper (to minimize the weight) to a grain truck parked on higher ground.
Moving to the next field was no better and was in fact, worse. And that was before the weekend of rain that left two inches in the rain gauge. The only good news is that there appears to be a buyer for the canola we did grab. It’s lighter than normal, the colour isn’t great, the grade is poorer but someone is willing to pay for it. Unfortunately, our yard and the roads are so soft, loaded trucks can’t get anywhere near for the time being.
Here’s the thing. The growing season is only so long. If you can’t seed the 2017 crop when you should, you’re playing Russian roulette hoping it ripens before it’s ruined by an early frost or snowfall. Farmers know the last day you can seed a particular crop. This is hard-won wisdom based on first-hand experience. Many of the fields that were harvested last year didn’t have any preparatory work done last fall. Others have standing water right now. Which means that the seeding will be delayed, which means this year’s harvest could be delayed. Which starts to feel like a domino effect, vicious cycle, gloom and doom, hopeless scenario.
Throw in several cold, overcast, rainy days in a row and I see my mood deteriorating. Logically, I know there isn’t a damn thing I can do about the weather. Logically, I know there are others in Alberta and elsewhere who have fought wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and tsunamis and lost much more than we have. Unfortunately, I’m not feeling too logical at the moment. Now, please excuse me while I search for a silver lining, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.