From sunup to sundown, all year round, farmers watch Mother Nature evolve. They witness her worst, from draught to flooding, and witness her best, at just the right temperatures with just the right amount of precipitation to make the crops flourish.
They feel the days shorten as the weeks progress into the fall harvest and the air grow crisper. They clear out fields for miles where corn and soybeans once stood. They watch the tree leaves change from green to oranges, reds, and yellows.
They plant the winter wheat seed into the bare ground, and soon close up shop for winter months to come. Although it may seem like a stand-still for farmers, it’s only the beginning of preparation for the coming spring. During this time is when paperwork is caught up with, equipment is cleaned and maintained, and inputs (seed, chemicals, fertilizers, fuel, etc.) are purchased for next season.
As winter months go by and the weather starts to grow warmer, planting season is just within reaching distance. Farmers come out of the woodwork, anxious to be working out in the fields again. This time of the year is the most crucial. Farmers, farmer’s wives, and farmer’s children constantly have to watch the weather. There have been times my dad is listening to the weather forecast on the radio, my mom is watching the weather update on the local news station, and I’m watching the weather radar on the internet. It seems a little overdone, but a farmer has to make sure he is going to have clear skies when he goes to plant. Otherwise, all of the seed will be washed out by the rain, and he will have to buy more seed to replant. Mother Nature is not 100% predictable so this does happen from time to time, but we predict the best we can, and the rest is uncontrollable.
April is the ideal time for farmers to plant corn and soybeans, so they can harvest in October, before the frost. Day and night, the air is filled with the smell of fresh dirt, as it’s torn up for planting. Wave-like ripples soon fill the fields, where the seeds have been planted.
Come May and months ahead, farming is in full swing. The wheat has grown and begins to develop head.
The corn and soybean seeds have sprouted.
Come June, wheat alters from green to golden brown within just a few weeks.
Farmers constantly check the fields to see if the grain is ready for harvest.
Before you know it, wheat harvest is underway!
Once the wheat is cut, double-crop beans (double-crop means growing more than one crop in the same field in a single growing season) are planted in the wheat stubble.
The summer days pass by, and the corn and soybeans grow tremendously (with warm temps and the right amount of precipitation). It’s a phenomenal opportunity to be able to watch these crops grow from tiny sprouts up to 6 or 7 feet tall within a short amount of time! (Corn that is)
As fall approaches, the corn and soybeans’ green color begins to dull. Shortly, the stalks and leaves turn brown, showing that they have reached their full maturity and are ready to soon be harvested. Mid-late October, roads flood with red and green equipment and traffic is backed up. It’s harvest time once again.
You see, farmers work alongside Mother Nature all year round. They base their decisions on her, and she, in a way, decides if farmers are profitable or unprofitable. My dad once said, “it can be pretty frustrating at times, but I still wouldn’t trade it for anything else.” This lifestyle is a gamble, and it takes passionate, patient, and determined individuals to live the farm life.
Farmers appreciate this land more than anyone else, and I say that with confidence because the land is how they earn a living. To be able to physically see their hard work paying off as the crops grow and mature and then watch the grain pour into the hopper as they harvest is just so incomparable to working an 8-hour job for a piece of paper called a paycheck.
Southern Illinois University student and