Here we go again

Published 9:07 am Wednesday, May 18, 2011

We’ve done it now. Just two months ago, we were sleeping soundly, dreaming of 200 bushels of corn and two-bale cotton, tinkering with tractors and planters amidst slow conversation.

Not anymore.

We just threw the house mortgage, the electric bill, the children’s college education, grocery food money and loose pocket change out there in the field and buried it about an inch below the soil.

Now everything changes. For six months, everything changes.

We now wake up at night in a cold sweat imagining the worst. How far did I go with that outside planter not working right? Why did we plant so deep! The ground will set up so hard the seed will never break through! The corn is too thick! The peanuts are too thin! Where did all those weeds come from? The cotton should have been up by now!

The trek to the mailbox was once filled with melodious anticipation of invites, magazines and handwritten letters. Now that cold, metal box sits there in a hard stance, daring to be opened, as one hesitatingly drops the door to find a fertilizer bill thick as a phone book, a seed bill trying to squeeze six-digit numbers on a page and a fuel bill that must be read sitting down. We used that much fuel? No way! How could phosphate have gone up that much? Nitrogen is what? This is way more than last year!

The weatherman, whose report was once taken with a yawn, now becomes, except for one’s wife, the most important person on earth. Did he say isolated or scattered showers? What percent? Twenty? Thirty? Fifty? How cold Friday night? In the 40s! Highs in the 90s next week? You must be kidding!

As the ground sends up its first dust of the season and the predicted rain slides off to the north, that dreadful, ominous, terrifying word creeps into ones consciousness. Drought.

Not to mention other possibilities. What if I get sick this year? Or hurt? Who will get the crop in? What if corn drops to $3? Cotton to 60 cents? What about a hurricane next fall just as we’re digging the first field of peanuts? What if everything is so bad, we lose the farm and the house and the tractors and the equipment and all the livestock? What if………. ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

It’s going to be a stressful, nerve-racking, eventful, risky, dangerous and tension-filled year.

But then again, that’s what makes it so much fun.

Rex Alphin is a farmer, businessman and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is