Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Eternal Optimists

It's here. . . baseball season. Joe's finest hour: the greatest time spent yelling at the TV, watching his beloved Cardinals play. While we are definitely a house of Cardinals fans (there was a question about Anna being friends with someone at preschool because he was a Cub fan. We told her he was okay, just try to change him.), I can't help but see a lot of similarities between farming and being a fan of a not-so-great team. The "other" team in this house: THE CUBS.

The mantra many Cubs fans follow at this time of year is "This is the year. . ." Much like farmers in the spring, Cubs fans are clinging to the promise of the unknown, hoping that all the off season preparation will make a difference. Farmers follow the same creed. Seed purchasing based upon yield performance, early fertilizer purchases, and new equipment give us the promise of a better spring, better yields, and better financial picture in the end (whoo-hoo!).

Like being a Cubs fan, farming is heart wrenching. Joe's mama cow who lost her calf after birthing it in unseasonably cold temperatures in the wrong place in the muck was terrible to endure. The weather is unpredictable and maddening, much like the Cub pitching staff. However, you keep going, keep farming, keep rooting for the "home team."

"Maybe next year" is something all Cub fans think at the end of yet another losing season. Farmers say it, too. Last year was a tough year for us. From a terribly wet spring to a equally wet fall, we never seemed to catch a break. Everything was planted late, so it was ready late: a mean, vicious cycle. Our last round of harvesting corn was done in a skiff of snow. Even now, we're still feeling the affects of last year's craziness. We're currently hauling out grain that should have been out of the bins in January. Yikes. However, the three farmers in our operation, although frustrated by last year, knew that the next year would be better.

The promise of spring is bringing hope to the farmstead, making last year's nightmare just a memory. Everyone in our operation seems ready to start fresh. This optimism is pretty extraordinary when you think about it. Joe didn't walk away from his dream job when the seasons didn't cooperate. He just worked through the snow, giving my uncle a fist pump when they hauled their last load to the bin. He didn't sell all his cattle when he had to endure day after day of cold, wet chores during this crummy calving season. He just kept going.

All the signs of spring are starting to show up: baseball starting, the planter parked in the driveway, ready to go, green grass and warm temperatures. We don't know what this year is going to bring, but we do have a lot of hope. And, even though the farmers in our operation are not Cub fans, they share the same eternal optimism: the hope that "this is the year."

1 comment:

  1. No one believes me when I tell them that I have divorced myself from being a Cub fan, but I'll use your post as a tag-along to push it once more.

    After the miserable failure of the 2008 postseason when the Cubs effectively shoved their heads so far up their rear ends that they wore cleats for caps (thank you), I decided that -- considering I live in Los Angeles and have to actively work to follow a hapless franchise to each inevitable disappointing season's end -- I was finally done. I don't need that kind of grief.

    How am I doing after the break-up? I'm okay. I realized I've had a crisis of faith and I'm completely between teams right now. John Lennon said, "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me." Me, too, only with the Cubs, and kinda the Beatles.

    What's strange is that I do not miss the actual Cubs as a team, but I mostly miss having a team. We went to see the White Sox play the Cubs during spring training this year (Henry's first game!) and Rachel asked, "Do you wish we were getting autographs from that side, too?" I shook my head and said, "Nope." But I'm not a Sox fan either. I'm just a baseball admirer.

    This is all a long way to point out how awful it is to compare farmers or any group of people to a baseball franchise so hellbent on losing. Farmers, I would suspect, wouldn't adapt to the market demands and be required to deliver a desired product, unlike the Cubs, who pretty much just have to open the doors at Wrigley Field and feed the beer-swilling population plenty of optimism peanuts and lovable-loser hugs. A lovable loser is still a loser, and a loser for nearly 100 years with no hope in sight is a loser to be avoided.

    Kara did good work, by the way.