The Perils of Mother Nature

I don't think any industry is at the mercy of Mother Nature more than agriculture, and we've suffered our share or blows.

Snow, rain, ice, wind, hail, and so on and so forth. Mother Nature will do what she pleases when she pleases and we all just have to roll with the punches. It's one thing for us to just roll along in our everyday lives, but for people, their entire livelihood depends on what Mother Nature throws at them.

Anything that has to do with agriculture is at the mercy of Mother Nature. Though some fields are a little less risky than others, it's still a big risk. A cool and wet fall can damage corn crops. Heavy wind and rain can flatten grain in the field. Summer hailstorms can destroy tender fruit. Hard frosts can destroy fruits, flowers, or plants. And all that says nothing for more common weather issues like excessive heat or extended cloudy days which can cause all kinds of other problems.

This winter has been an interesting one. With so much snow, how does it affect the crops? Well, it's not bad for plants outside which are well protected from the cold. But lots of snow doesn't help the little plastic tents we call greenhouses in the area. Snow load on greenhouses is an annual concern. In some cases, like our main greenhouse ranch, we just turn on all the heat and melt the excess snow. Not really an efficient means of protecting ones greenhouse, but still the best one out there. If a greenhouse doesn't have heat, you don't have too many other options. The first is to clear snow, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't work. This year, we watched two greenhouses collapse from the excess snow loads. Definitely not fun, but something that is a reality of conceding to Mother Nature. At least we're all happy that nobody was near the houses when they did collapse and that's the most important thing.

Our overwintering house that holds all the shrubs and trees for the winter.

The perennial house with the snow partially removed on the right.

From the inside of the perennial house - what a mess.

But the risk for plants isn't over yet. All this snow has to go someplace and flooding can be as bad as anything. Though many plants are tolerant of temporary flooding, not all plants are. Of course water is the lifeline of plants and being near a river is typically an asset, but not in times of heavy snow. Heavy flooding makes potted plants float, along with empty pots and bags of peat moss. High river waters flood around trees and, though the trees don't mind, the beavers that swim in the river have direct access to a fresh supply of young plants. A beaver buffet. Muskrats have already surfaced from the high river and have been seen wandering through greenhouses

Yes, everybody has adversities in their lives but I think no industry is more at the hands of Mother Nature than agriculture. And all those people choose and accept the risk. I can imagine having a barn of animals flooding, food being spoiled, crops failing, predators killing livestock in search of food, and far worse for farmers. Though there is a bright side - us farmers take it in stride as much as we can. We learn to accept things beyond our control and just continue on. A collapsed greenhouse, piles of snow, and a potential flood, really aren't that bad as long as we still have our heath and our families. If growing plants and raising animals can mellow us farmers out that much, isn't it worth gardening after all?

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