This is what farm stress looks like for us. An empty feedyard amidst a grass and forage production crisis.
This spring has been unlike any other in our decades of farming. Drought combined with late, hard frosts, has resulted in almost no grass and forage growth across the ranch.
We have had farming seasons before that turned us upside down. We have survived BSE – when a sick animal from a different farm in a difference province cause the bottom to fall out of the beef market – and the value of every animal on our farm dropped to pennies. We survived the early 2004 frost, when every acre of our grain farm froze in the fields. Those moments will be forever etched in our minds, as they will for many of our fellow farmers. We have survived floods, a lightning strike to our cattle herd, trade wars and more. We know and understand farm stress as well as anyone.
But this spring is different. Our ranch is built around forage production. Over the years, that has ranged from high to low, and everywhere in between, but we have NEVER experienced zero production, and it is weighing heavy on our shoulders.
More than the financial hit we are taking, more than the uncertainty of what the best course forward is, there is such a weight of responsibility on us. The responsibility of having living, breathing animals relying on our decisions is immense. Crushing. We need to know that we have enough feed to nourish the animals in our care for not only the summer, but also the looming winter months as well.
We are already selling off animals, so they can be shipped out of province to parts of the country that still have feed. While it hurts to sell at a financial loss, moving those animals off the farm will free up what little feed we have for the animals that are left.
So we will make the best decisions that we can. We will remind ourselves that the struggles of our past have made us better farmers. We will knuckle down and pray for rain. We will look for ways to manage our stress as best we can. But – that pit in our stomach, the strained smile on our faces, the sleepless nights and the grouchy attitudes – those will be with us for a while. This is what farm stress looks like.
2 thoughts on “This Is What Farm Stress Looks Like.”
Ms Ivey -Please change my e mail address to email@example.com. I also want to commend you for your many wonderful articles. You are a very clear and strong voice for Agriculture and the cattle industry. I particularly enjoyed your "thanks" to A&W. I wonder what those few ranchers who signed on with A&W thought when they realized that A&W has now moved on to promote veggie burgers. Clearly they are doing this to exploit a perceived opportunity to broaden their base. But, in so doing they cast an implied slur on regular production and I want to thank you for challenging their scare tactics. Your article on the stress of severe dough was excellent —and disturbing, Here in Ontario farmers are experiencing the opposite with the wettest, coldest, latest spring in my memory. Keep up your ec xcellent work. Charlie Gracey
We too have been waiting for rain in Lamont, AB and finally got it this week. I hope there was some left to share. I have been doing some study on The Farmers Bill of Rights movement in the United States and invite you to look into it yourself or contact me. Food production is unlike any other business enterprise and we need to have a farm/ranch safety net so our hundred year farms can still be here in a thousand years. Your stress will be in our prayers.