Now, I ask the same of the wind. What is she screaming about?
Possibly, she is echoing the distress of local farmers. Though we had a few days of dry sunshine last week, we've just endured another two days of rain. Forecast says cloudy but dry for a few days and then, mid-week, back to rain again. If that happens, Brent says flatly, "We're toast."
With all the crop insurance, planting deadlines, seeding contracts and set per-bushel prices - not to mention a seemingly endless list of legal exceptions and requirements - farming has become a maze of paperwork, requiring a gambler's iron gut that can also handle the Wild Card aspect of Mother Nature. As my cousin, Wayne, said to me recently, "Farming used to just be farming, now it's all business."
|Brent, re-tilling my garden plot last week - huge help.|
- Dakota Black (95-105) - attempted last year, edible
- Strawberry (85 - 100) - ornamental and edible
- Painted Mountain (65-90)- ornamental only
The other seeds are from Landreths', officially D. Landreth Seed Company, established 229 years ago. (Their catalogs are gorgeous. You should order one - the illustrations alone are exceptional. Everything is designed and printed here in the US.)
The day after planting popcorn, I sowed watermelon - which I had tremendous luck with last year - eggplant, peppers and tomatoes. My chosen varieties and days to mature:
- Moon & Stars watermelon (85)
- Sugar Baby watermelon (78-80)
- Black Beauty eggplant (80 days from transplant)
- Canary Bell peppers (72 days from transplant)
- Rainbow Blend, cherry tomatoes (65 days from transplant)
- Red & Yellow Pear Blend, cherry tomatoes (75 days from transplant)
|Lilac trees on farm|
This morning, Brent described one guy with 8,000 acres who only has 1,000 acres seeded due to flooded fields. Another guy, too impatient to be held off by mud bulls, tried seeding one of his fields and quickly regretted it. His seeder (ginormous machines with six-digit price tags) got stuck in the mud and had to be pulled out with a "stiff arm" (back-hoe); ultimately, the machine had to be taken apart and removed in three separate pieces - a logistical, financial and emotional disaster.
"It's like my dad always said to me, 'If you have a good year, then a bad year will surely follow,'" said Brent. "And sure enough, last year was peaches and cream, so here we are."
To avoid another night literally boxed in here, I bought myself a ticket to go see Eric Bergeson, "the country scribe", tonight at Akra Hall in Cavalier. He's a five-time author, pens a column, "Down on the Farm", and speaks all over the region - kind of like a super-local Garrison Keiller, I presume. His site offers this rousing review:
"Thanks so much for your performance last night and for upping the attendance at our annual Pea Soup Supper. You even got some of the reserved Swedes to show their teeth when they smiled!"So, there's that.
|Image of Akra Hall: North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department|