It’s finally March, and the official start of spring is just days away.
Like most of you, I am glad to get the winter months behind us, especially the brutal February we just went through. I know there can still be some snow and ice in March, but I’m trying to be optimistic.
Growing up in the Ozarks, I remember winters with heavy snow, but it was usually gone in a few days. As the snow melted, it made great snowballs, which were more like iceballs. My brothers were pretty good shots with those things. There’s also a picture somewhere at Dad’s of my younger brother holding an icicle that is as long as he is tall. Once in a while there would be sleds pulled behind Dad’s truck, which I usually didn’t participate in; yep, I was a wimp. I was scared Dad might go a little too fast and I would go flying. I also wasn’t a fan of taking off down a hill on a toboggan. I think it was a fear of broken bones and facing Mom with those broken bones that kept my feet firmly on the ground most of the time.
Many farmers across the nation struggled to keep livestock, especially newborn and young calves, goat kids and lambs, alive in the fringed polar vortex. It’s hard to leave those little ones out in the elements when it’s that cold. As I write this, the sun peering through my office window makes me want to ball up like an old cat and soak it all in. It’s also nice not to be wearing three layers of clothes; I feel 20 pounds lighter.
It’s unusual for the Ozarks to have so many conceptive days with temperatures in the singles digits or below zero, so it was a hard hit for everyone. I’m not a fan of winter, and when someone says, “Look at the snow! Isn’t it pretty?” I cringe. The cold doesn’t bother me, as long as I have on those layers, but it’s harder to get around outside, hoses and hydrants freeze, people forget how to drive, and things simply don’t want to start. Bill and I got my dad a jump box for Christmas but had to exchange the first one (and the second one) because it just wouldn’t crank a tractor. The new one is now only slightly used as I had to use it to start the truck, so at least I know this one works.
The recent weather only reinforces that farmers and ranchers are among the toughest people on the planet. As people huddled up and hunkered down, farmers and ranchers persevered on, doing what needed to be done.
If you go to the Ozarks Farm & Neighbor Facebook page, you will see a post where we asked folks to post photos of themselves or their family as they did their chores. The images show just how hard it is to be a livestock producer when Mother Nature has a temper tantrum.
Do you know who wasn’t out on our farms and ranches during this time? Groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Animal Rights Collation and the Humane Society of the United States. These folks are more like fair-weather protestors. They choose not to see what farmers and ranchers go through to ensure every animal is taken care of because that wouldn’t coincide with their cruelty and neglect accusations. It’s not unusual for these organizations to be no-shows when farmers and ranchers can use a hand; it has been proven time and time again.
As the seasons change, I’m sure I will be writing about too much rain, not enough rain, or maybe more snow. We don’t know what is ahead. None of us has crystal balls to predict the weather or anything else for that matter, but I can say with certainty that farms won’t close because of weather.
Thank you to all of our farmers in the Ozarks for your hard work day in and day out. You don’t get the recognition you deserve for your hard work and perseverance, and for your constant battle to get along with Mother Nature. Thank you for being what you are.
Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at [email protected].