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Riches Ungathered

We live in a spot where the farmland gives way to woods, lakes, and swampland. Our place sits in peace with only a few neighbors in homes around the lake that are occupied year-round. Every time we go anywhere after three miles we come out of the woodland and see the farms of Mason County. Most often I enjoy driving through farmland and observing the activity, judging the crops, and the like. Growing up on a farm, I have not forgotten the drama of farming. That is, every year you don’t know how it’s going to turn out. This year there is something wrong.

The weather has dumped early snows and sometimes rain on thousands of acres of cropland not yet harvested. Today while driving only a distance of twenty miles I saw eight or ten fields of corn or soybeans standing unharvested. Snow covers the ground. In just that short distance I saw hundreds of acres of crops waiting to be gathered. During November we have had over 12 inches of snow. Temperatures have stayed cold enough that several inches of snow remain not melted. Between the snowy days and the very few sunny days, it has rained. Everything is wet.

Corn stalks can stand up and dry out fairly well if the weather gets really cold and freeze-dries the kernels. Soybeans are a tougher problem. If the stalks are moist they remain leathery as do the brown pods that hold the precious beans. Harvesting requires brisk, dry stalks and bean pods that will break easily and release their cargo inside the harvester. Corn will stand well into a cold winter and if the snow is not too deep can be harvested in January. With beans I’m not sure how it will work out.

This is more than just an inconvenient delay. Those fields scattered all over our part of the country represent millions of dollars. The crops cannot be sold or used to feed the cattle or the pigs we expect will provide food for us. Those fields represent millions of dollars invested, in seed, in diesel fuel, in wages for workers, invested in the expensive tractors and other farm machines for which sizable loans may be awaiting payment. I wonder what it feels like to be a farmer right now. Maybe conditions are better where you live.

I know much farming is in the hands of large family companies, or corporations, but that doesn’t make the problem less important. Bigger farms represent bigger risks, larger loans, bigger payrolls, all the rest in larger proportions. The risks are enormous. I see the unharvested crop, waiting to be gathered, or waiting to rot and fall to the ground, lost. How could anyone be a farmer and get along without faith in God?

All this makes me wonder if I don’t take enough risks sowing the seed of the Good News. How many occasions have there been where I could have offered a word from Jesus to someone. And what harvests I may have missed. I read recently that courage is the other side of faith in God. Could you be a farmer? Could I be a farmer?

Copyright 2019 Stanley Hagemeyer

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