Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I can see the eyes rolling...I'm a stay-at-home mom, why in the world should I be overwhelmed? Why should I feel any type of stress when my big daily decisions consist of snack and wardrobe choices and whether or not the beds are made?

Well, I know my deadlines are generally self-imposed, I'm not working on curing cancer with my decisions, but a girl is allowed to feel stressed, right?

Last week was rough around here, and I couldn't put my finger on it until this morning as I was driving (yes, I get up at 5:00 AM to exercise. Yes, I know that's crazy, but that's the only time I have to myself!). As I drove down the blacktop, the sun was starting to rise, peeking up over the tassels of the maturing corn. It gave off an almost strobe light effect, and was pretty cool, but when I reached the corner where our field with the downed corn is, it stopped. The light was no longer a rhythmic shadow and shine on my windows, but had a choppy discorded rhythm. Upon realizing that it wasn't the clouds, but the up and down and all around of the corn that was causing this effect, all I could think of was dread. Fear. Nervousness. Anxiety.

Harvest is coming, and it's going to be a bumpy road.

Talk about foreshadowing.

The guys have been working on installing the reel, an attachment to the corn head of the combine that will help pick up the twisted and downed corn in our fields. While we do not have a lot that is on the ground, a little can go a long way. My hope is that we'll get to those fields first, get it done, be pleasantly surprised with the results, and have smooth sailing from there.

Yeah, right.

This is already a stressful time in our family, even though Joe is a good pre-marketer of his grain. Meaning, he works with a trading advisor to sell his grain at a price that is hopefully the best, but also the safest bet for our family. Many farmers sit on bins of grain and wait for the markets to go up and up, waiting to sell when the price is at its highest. They can spread out their grain checks throughout the year as the market waxes and wanes. Need some cash? Sell a little gain. This is a gamble, and while it works for some farmers, for us, a family of six depending upon this income for the entire year, we cannot make that bet. So, we sell our grain with the safe bet, spread out our income with careful budgeting until the fall when our loads of grain are sent to the elevator. Now, we don't go out the next day and book a trip to Disney or buy a new vehicle or whatever. I would love to do that...don't get me wrong, but there are operating costs and bills and that little guy who we welcomed in May (but cancelled our maternity coverage the year before...oops) that we need to pay for!

So I guess my stress about the house and the kids and whether or not I'll be able to put the laundry away is really a substituted stress. I am substituting the stress of harvest and being a single parent for a few weeks for the stress of daily life. I am displacing my worries about finances and bills and instead focusing on why my curly hair is now back to the "white trash wave," as I fondly call it when my hormones are off. I'm stressing about the state of the front porch and our shoe system that isn't being utilized because I don't want to have to worry about whether or not the grain will yield its maximum.

I can't process that, because, I don't fully understand the process still, but I do understand the implications a difficult harvest will have upon my family and my life.

So, I sit here this morning, worrying about taking all the kids to my haircut (Hopefully the white trash wave will be remedied with a fresh cut...because that's important! Note the sarcasm.), because I would rather worry about things that I can control, and talk about that to Joe, and sweep the downed corn and dry August under the rug.

Hopefully my weird overwhelmed feeling with subside when that combine fires up and the results won't be as dire as I am making them out to be. My hope is that I am just adopting the pessimistic attitude that most farmers get right before big farming events.



  1. Emily,

    I love the post and can empathize. We have a diversified farm where my husband farms crops and I raise cattle. Challenges such as Mother Nature are so hard to cope with and accept.

    I spent the first several years after I moved to Nebraska and "acclimated" to a life farming and raising cattle getting visibly upset when Mother Nature unleashed her fury. I wanted so badly to change the weather, and really struggled with understanding that this was impossible. I grew up in urban South Florida and was not involved in agriculture until age 22, so I was not accustomed to having the weather play such an important role in my life.

    A few years ago, I realized that I was never going to be able to change Mother Nature, and therefore, I needed to change my own focus. Now, I proactively work to set myself and my animals up for success so that we can effectively deal with whatever challenges Mother Nature (or anyone else) throws our way. This change in attitude has really helped both my stress level and my effectiveness in providing good care to both my animals and my family as well.

    Good luck with harvest.

  2. Emily,

    Nice post for MANY reasons. First of all, I'm in the same boat as you. How can I be overwhelmed and stressed? Same deal, SAHM, farmer's wife etc etc.

    First of all, thank you for saying you have to get up at 5 to exercise. I'm coming to that reality. Secondly, becoming a single parent and making sure all things run smoothly at home as to not add stress to a special farmer's day is alot of work! :) Lastly, the reality that Mother Nature really is in control is sometimes very scary! It sure makes a believer out of me.

    Hang in there, and good for you for realizing where your stress comes from...very introspective:)

  3. I so agree with you. Even though I have a wonderful farming husband, there are many times I might as well be a single parent - the welfare of the crops and the critters comes first.