Every memoir, blog, how-to guide, and business handbook on farming that I’m aware of has a section on the weather. Is it really necessary to go on about the ways in which the farmer’s life—when to plant, when to rest, when to till, when to spread manure, move goats, make hay, sleep and wake—is organized by the weather?
Yes. Yes, it is.
I speak as one converted. Not only is it necessary to remind ourselves of these facts every so often, but I’m beginning to believe we don’t talk about the weather enough. This may come as a shock to any of you who have had more than a 30 second conversation with a farmer. Farmers, of course, are famous in the their love of complaining about the weather. Indeed, most farmers I know follow and complain about the 10-day forecast with religious zeal.
So, while my choosing to dwell on recent meteorological conditions may feel like well trodden ground, I think its ground worth treading just a bit more (if you can get through the mud to tread it in the first place). Here’s why: for those inclined to rue an extended rainy spell when seedlings need to be gotten into the ground, the past month has been “last days” sort of weather. It’s not just the multiple weeks with icy roads, cancelled planting dates, and cancelled school (which teachers and parents will join farmers in ruing) that comes to mind. Rather, it is days like the third day I had our lovely goats out in their new enclosure on our pasture. Not only were Crystal and Misty stressed by their introduction to electric fencing and their new guardians, but there was actually a 24 hour period that began as 60 degrees and muggy and became 5 degrees and icy. In the past 6 weeks, I have had condensation freeze in my mustache and have negotiated icy hills in my tiny truck to feed and water animals, but then I’ve also gotten dehydrated and my first (and second) wicked sunburn of the year. There have been days where we’ve considered building an arc followed by days where I couldn’t get water to animals fast enough.
Admittedly, my plight is laughable in comparison to the plight of real farmers. After all, unlike many colleagues, I don’t have CSA deadlines or other deliveries to meet, nor have I had to fix nearly as many fences or worry over nearly as many animals as my friends have done. However, the past few weeks have been an interesting inauguration into what it really means for your life to be ruled by the weather. Farming is hard enough without 55-degree temperature variations, thank you very much.