For months farmers have been planning their year. Planning what crops to grow. Planning and purchasing their inputs. And as happens far too often, mother nature has thrown us a curve ball. Here we are at the end of April, looking out the window and still seeing snow. Obviously we look back to last year when the situation was much different. We hear what “normals” should be for this time of year. We become uncertain as to what normal really is.
There are times I still wonder whether people realize where their food supplies come from. I am reminded of the billboard that stood near Brandon for years. It simply stated that Farming Feeds Us All. The Manitoba Farm and Rural Support Services have Tshirts that say Farmers Feed Cities. In a Free Press article this week some farm leaders were commiserating the late spring and the possibilities of further delays due to flooding. In the comment section under the article one reader wrote, and this is so bizarre I will quote verbatim, “this flood is probably caused by all the fertilizing chemicals they put in the rivers and oceans”. Not sure whether to laugh or cry.
So as we assess what this year might bring, adjustments have to be made. We suspect, but don’t know, that the growing season will be shorter. We think, but don’t know, that we need to change cropping plans. We think, but don’t know, that cash projections will be wrong. We think, but don’t know, that this year may be a write off. A million different scenarios are haunting us 24/7.
All this thinking, all the second guessing can become tiring. We dig down. We search for that resilience that farmers are known for. Sometimes we find it and sometimes we don’t. The unknown and the second guessing can also be incredibly stressful. Farmers feel it. Businesses feel it. The entire community feels it.
Stress management is an integral part of a farmer’s “toolbox”. Recognizing stress for what it is and the damage it can cause is important. Having the ability to deal proactively with that stress is key to survival. It is the key to work/life balance. The key to success.
The good news is that there are many resources available to farmers and the rest of the rural community. The Manitoba Farm and Rural Support Services provide numerous services to help people who are experiencing overwhelming stress. They can provide a listening ear, both over the phone or online. They can provide resources. They are there to help. Confidential and free, the MFRSS is a service for farmers delivered by farmers.
Find someone to talk to. I can tell you from personal experience that talking helps. Verbalizing our inner most fears and anxieties helps to ease the burden. Through talking we find support and, without realizing it, support others. Make it a good one.