There is a billboard on the way to the Par-a-Dice in Peoria that sports a number for "Gambler's Anonymous." Ironic, eh? I think, however, this billboard should also be placed on various gravel roads along the countryside. Gambling is legal in Illinois, but did you know that it is part of the actual farming profession?
Seriously, as a farmer, you have to also be a gambler. Now, my husband enjoys a game of cards once in awhile, likes to go to Vegas now and again, but doesn't have an "issue" with gambling from a card or gaming perspective. In farming world, however, there are times that I think he needs to put the cards down and walk away from the table. We gamble every night with the weather man. Listening to the precipitation percentages, trying to beat the odds by saying, "it's not that bad" with the wind chill factors, and playing with fire during wind speed updates when the corn is just about ready to blow over are just a few of the gambles we take as farm folks. We waited each night with bated breath during a particularly wet fall (that shall remain "year-less"), hoping that the weather man's 75% chance of rain would be wrong, and we could roll the dice and take the combine out into the field that was most fit for cutting beans. There's another gamble: which field to work on and when. No matter what season, this is truly a crap shoot. Even a masters and bachelors degrees in ag education cannot get you away from gambling in this situation. Holy smokes! Last Mother's Day, my very intellegent, savvy, and somewhat excitable husband went "all in" and spent this particular spring day with himself, my uncle, uncle's friend, and a bulldozer, trying to pry the Turbo Chopper 3000 out of the muck. Not a winning hand at all that day.
Other potential gambles: equipment- red or green- no question in our house, seed varieties, nitrogen application or not, livestock or none, new bin or rent storage. . .the list goes on. Then, there's the gamble with taxes. The rush to the tax man at the end of the year and the hurried spending before January 1st would leave a shopper like me in a flushed, excited state. However, to my tight fisted, poker faced hubby, this is torture! It's like cashing in your chips when you're on a roll, or so I have been told.
I am having a hard time with this gamble, especially during the bleak winter days where the fields are- although pretty and white-- bleak and far from the promise of the tiny corn plants lining them, which, in turn means hope for a college education for our daughters, and maybe some new running shoes for my spring races. However, I need to remember that unlike gambling, the quick rush of excitement that comes with winning is not what farming is about. We are steady, patient, excited, and hopeful with each season. As farmers, no matter what, our profession is a good hand, no matter what.