This has been a dry summer here in the Upper Valley. The weather has been so beautiful that no one has really noticed that it snuck up on us. We have been extremely dry here in Plainfield and Cornish, andmany ofyou probably have seen the solid set irrigation system or the traveling water cannons going from time to time when you drive by. We were very fortunate to get two unannounced storms: a timely one in June and another in Mid July. Those two storms saved our butt at a time we were about to start losing crops. The good thing abouta drought is it usually is great weather for harvesting things, and the lack of moisture often means a reduction of disease and weed pressure. So we are selling a lot of product this year, and it is not being overtaken by weeds or disease. By our standards, a very good year for us thus far, although we desperately need rain if we are to have a decent fall season.
Some of my colleagues are not faring as well. In fact, they are hurting pretty badly, both emotionally and financially. Down onfarms in southern New Hampshire and on the Rhode Island and Massachusettsseacoastthey are really getting it handed to them. They are sufferingfinancially because the labor andenergy costsassociated with irrigation mount up fast. It adds additional labor. It can actually diminished yield or lose crops in their entirety. Both contribute to the financial loss. The emotional loss is in watching the crops wither that you cant get water to, and staring in dismay at your cell phone weather app while storms and fronts blow by without dropping any of the moisture that waspromised. Makes it tough to get up everyday andkeep going with any level of optimism. We have been there, it wears you down and gets you into a negative corner. Everything is harder.
So what is the difference between Edgewater Farm which is having a good year on paper and those farms that will be refinancing operating loans, perhaps mortgages? Are we better farmers? Smarter? Newer tractors? Have better looking workers?
The answer pretty much is simply this: we were shot in the ass with luck and they were not.
We got lucky. We got two good soakers when they did not. And the timeliness of those rains couldn’t have been better if I had ordered takeout for them. Michael Smith who ran Gypsy Meadow Farm for a time next door to us correctly observed that“We farmers are bright enough. We got tools and skill enough so we can farm in a swamp, or we can farm in a desert. But you’ve got to tell us which one its going to be…” And so everyyear we- and otherfarmers who do this same thing for a living- plan for the “normal” year and hope that it works out that way. This year has not been normal and there are big losers and big winners. It is so random and it seems so unfair. This farming thing is a huge crap shoot anyway and there are a few things you can do to ameliorate problems. But as the song goes….”When you’rehot, you’rehot. When you’ re not, you’re not.” That pretty much sums upthe winners and losers this year.
We have been very lucky. This time. But I have been on the receivingend of nasty weather events, and it tempers my optimism day to day. The boom can still fall. We have a lot of dollars in fall crops sitting out there and at this point they will only come up a winner if wescore another soaker in the next ten days. A save-your-ass rain.
Maybe we swill or wont get it. Too bad. Our money is down already….I made the bet back in February. Me and every other farmer whobet on havinga “normal” summer.