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Where is the rain?

Published August 11. 2017 08:28PM

Observations from the drought-stricken Midwest.

When you fill your tank with gas, you expect to cover miles. It's a given.

When you work, you expect to get paid. But for farmers and ranchers there is no guarantee you will get paid.

It is just guaranteed that they will work.

They stay up at night pondering the forecast, penciling their fate. Yet, at the end of 365 days their wrinkled, callused hands don't grasp a paycheck. In these tough times, the farmers and ranchers pay to work.

The drought-affected farmers and ranchers in North and South Dakota are in a disaster. For some it's been a few years in a row that their crops have failed. In some areas only a total of 5 inches of rain has fallen since March. It takes its toll and it's hard to get ahead.

The wheat is the wrong color, the shape of head of grain is stunted and the plant doesn't produce. They will combine the field for straw but they will get no grain for feed. Corn crops will tassel, but without rain the plant will not grow ears of corn.

The thermometer climbs and forecasts still call for no rain in sight. The baking of the land continues!

The pastures are brown and the cattle are hungry. The hay crop is very slim. Extra hay is brought in and water tanks filled. In the excess heat, the cattle must have fresh water. So the tractors run more to do these chores. Another added gas expense.

Can you imagine showing up to work every day and not getting paid? Imagine the desire it takes to just get out of bed every day for these farmers and ranchers?

Families are burdened. Everyone is cutting back. The entire region, especially the Dakotas, is dramatically affected by the high temperatures and the lack of moisture.

Adding salt to the wounds of the drought are terrible hailstorms that have hit some areas. The wind-driven ice will split the leaves of thirsty plants. The hail will melt and soak into the ground, but the plants have been too damaged. They will not bounce back and produce the crop yield that was hoped for.

Yet these farmers and ranchers are looking ahead because there is always next year.

They press on with faith, hope and love.

Faith that God will always take care of them in good times and bad. As you have all heard Paul Harvey say, "and God made a farmer."

Hope that the next year will be better. Some people dream of big houses and fancy cars and vacations to exotic islands. Farmers and ranchers dream of a year with green grass and fresh water in the same pasture for their cattle. A year that shows a good crop without disease and decent weather to put the grain in their storage bins.

Ranchers and farmers farm for the love of farming. They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants. They love to live in the presence of animals. They love to work outside. They love to live where they work and to work where they live. Farm life has a measure of independence in being self-employed, and many work in the company and help of their children on the family farm.

They are the true optimists. Farmers and ranchers are admired for the strength to endure in bad times.

Here in the upper Midwest ranchers and farmers know the rains will come, but they just don't know when.

They will wait.

Thanks to public speaker and North Dakota farm wife and mother Katie Dilse for her insight.

A side note: Since this was written the heat has subsided and some areas have received some most welcomed rain.

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