"It hasn't been this bad in 30 years."

Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I've heard that from a couple of different farmers in the past three weeks, and I gotta say by the kinds of stories I'm hearing, I believe it.

Since we've been here we've not seen more that an inch of rain fall on any given day. Our grass is brown and burnt to a crisp, especially when you step on it. The small garden we planted has yet to show any signs of life, even after watering it regularly. The locals are saying they haven't seen a good soaking since they can't remember when, let alone two or three solid days of drizzle.

This year started off great and much of the seeding was done early. Just as the seeds were germinating and coming through, we got a killer frost which set them back. Then as they started to come through again, there was no water to get them going. The fields look unlike anything I've ever seen before, some are even bare with just a few patches of green in the low spots. Some of the fields have stunted crops because of the lack of rain, and they won't produce enough to harvest.

In short, it's getting bad. 30 years bad.

Because the grass isn't growing and the crops are failing, the cattle farms are in trouble. One farmer here was down to no feed, but was able to make arrangements at the last minute to move his cattle to a neighbours empty field, provided he put up fences. He was desperate so he did. Another friend had to sell a bunch of cattle because there was no feed, so they sold at a loss. Because everyone is in the same position, the value of cattle is dropping in price, and the farmers are losing what they invested in the cattle this winter. The same farmer has enough feed for the rest of his cattle to last three weeks. Plenty of the area farmers are in the same kind of hurt. You want to know we are praying hard around here.

One local farmer had to dig a 20ft deep trench for utility purposes, and all the way down, it was dust dry dirt. Amazingly there was no moisture.

Another elderly farmer was telling me that even his garden potatoes are not coming up. He said that in the dirty thirties at least the potatoes would grow. That's what fed them through those dark days. But not this year.

Even if it rains now, it's too little and too late for this year. The grain farmers are hurting, the cattle farmers are hurting. The hog farmers have been hurting and going out of business for a couple of years now, and the turkey farmers will have to purchase feed this winter. There will be a bit of help through insurance for the grain farmers, but that just covers the cost of getting the crop in the ground. It doesn't cover living expenses etc. But even the farm gardens aren't producing. They often can be depended on to help through the long winters, but this winter might be longer than usual.

And so we have much to pray for here, and we are praying.

Given the situation, I am often surprised by the optimism of many of the farmers around here. They continue to get up and go to the fields, doing what they can to coax a little crop along, day by day. It's all new to me, so I keep asking questions of them, learning as I go. In a way I feel a twinge of responsibility being the local "Man of God" guy around here. Why didn't God send the rain when it was needed? Why will this winter be so hard on some of these farmers? And so on. So I keep asking God those same requests. I keep asking him to send the rain on the just and on the unjust, just like it says he will do. And I keep being grateful for the simple things I have. Food, shelter, transportation, and a chance to serve him out here in The Field.


  1. On the way out to farm, I was gazing out the window looking at the crops, (while my mom was trying to run over the gophers - a proud Saskatchewan tradition, how many gophers can a person hit!) and I had this thought. I think people who go into farming are the type of people that think, well someone has to do it.

  2. Now, that is cruel Why on earth would you want to mow down these helpless little creatures? Let me tell you that is NOT traditionalSaskatchewan tradition to most people, I assure you. For shame, woma.

  3. Well.... if those poor little helpless creatures manage to wipe out a good portion of your crop (which in this area, not only has the frost and lack of rain damaged the crops. We started off pretty well..... until the gophers came. Kinda of the final insult to the crops around here.) I think one may think differently. I have relatives that farm, both have replanted fields (entire fields!) this year just from damage done from the gophers. Maybe I spoke out of turn about it being a Saskatchewan tradition but here in the southwest (and every farming community in the province that I know of), it sure is one of the more common past times!

    It's all about perspective. They are rodents that are eating away crops. Crops that people have to harvest to have money to live another year. Crops that feed the rest of us. Would you feel the same way about rats?

    Nope not feeling any shame or remorse about the decrease in gopher population.

  4. I can see why you're the man who was moved to that seat, Randall, even if it's an uncomfy seat.

  5. My hubby is from Swift Current and would probably agree about the tradition of trying to hit gophers on the highway. He'll swerve to try and hit them if it's safe for him to do so. He also likes to go out to his uncle's bison pasture to shoot gophers, where if a bison steps into a gopher hole it can break a leg and the animal has to be euthanized.

  6. I feel no remorse for the gophers either.

    I do feel for the people who live in that dry land. Since we are to care for each other, it will be a good thing to pray for relief in the form of rain together. May God be with all as they struggle through this year and may God honor the commitment those farmers make to care for the land each year during the good times and the bad.

  7. Here in the P.A. region we were hurting for moisture until early June, but we've had some good soakers in recent weeks. The last time I checked the Environment Canada website, total June precipitation was 65 mm, almost at the long-term June average of 73 mm. Even the forest fires are out.

    I find myself paying more attention to the crop conditions since we bought land. It sounds as though living in a field is doing that for you.

  8. Yeah Phil, I'm becoming way more aware of the earth and sky since moving out here.


    And the gophers, an observation.
    When we lived in Winnipeg the zoo there had a gopher display and those guys were as cute and interesting as anything they had there. They were great and gave our family plenty of laughs.

    Moving to the field starts to change the perception. They are little blighters who kill crops and hurt wildlife.

    Same for me here with the deer. I've eaten some amazing pieces of deer steaks while in the city, but being out here and seeing the graceful animals tends to change perception.

    It may change again after we've coaxed the tomatoes into life, gently helping them to come to much fruit, and then the day before we eat them the deer come and destroy the hard work. Then I might be all about shooting the blighters.


  9. "It may change again after we’ve coaxed the tomatoes into life, gently helping them to come to much fruit, and then the day before we eat them the deer come and destroy the hard work. Then I might be all about shooting the blighters."


    "Salad? That's what food eats".



I'm moderating all the comments these days.

Copyright Randall Friesen. Powered by Blogger.