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....maybe next year

Here at Uselton Farms, this has been the saying all of 2022. It's been a tough year.

The weather, the cost, the losses, the emotions, the mental toll of it all. It's really hard to even know where to begin.

When we start planting around April, our one and only hope always is I sure hope it grows. Well, it can't grow without rain. So it begins....

Due to the rising costs of well, just about everything, we made the decision in 2021 to pre-buy a portion of our fertilizer, and chemicals. Pre-buying even at historical highs. That was a big hit in December, but one we were willing to gamble with just to make sure we had it locked in at a lower cost. Remember though, key word, "portion."

From the first seed going in the ground, we pray. Lord, please bring us rain this year. Well, 2022 it just didn't happen. Acres were planted, acres were bare. So, in some fields, you replant. Take two. Let's try again.

Additional costs for seed, fuel, time. It starts to take a a toll, and we are just starting the season. Okay, Lord, we are trusting you. Whatever you see our yields to be, it will be.

Sometimes, that is easier spoken out loud, than the way we internalize it.

Not only are the seeds freshly planted getting no rain, that also means our hay grounds are getting no rain. So the money, fuel and time spent fertilizing for higher yields, will be a waste of time and money.

Our first cutting of hay we had $73/roll in fertilizer only. Needless to say, the yield was a loss. The 2nd cutting wasn't much better. This leaves us way short for the winter. We use our hay to feed our cattle throughout the winter, so by the summer we know our winter is going to be tough trying to feed cattle with little hay. We also know that will lead to two options. One, additional costs to buy hay from someone else to feed our cattle, or option 2 will be to sell some of our cattle. Neither are options we want to choose. But, this is farming.

As July approaches and no rain in sight, our ponds and creeks began to dry up. This means not only are we short on hay for winter, our cattle have no water to drink in the summer. We began hauling water around mid-July that continued through August, and at one farm, we are still hauling water. We have been hauling water for 5 months now. I am shocked the water company hasn't contacted us thinking we have a leak. It's quite a bill each month filling a 1500 gallon water tank, multiple times a week.

So, here we are in the middle of summer. No rain. Now, we are faced with HIGH temperatures. When corn is tasseling, and no water, this is detrimental to the growth of the corn. Tasseling is when the corn germinates the kernals on the corn cob. This years conditions caused a lower germination of the kernals, therefore, lower yields in the end.

So, our yields don't even cover our costs of what it took to plant, fertilize, harvest, etc. Well, what little we were able to harvest.

And to just knock us down one more final time......Insurance. Farmers have the option to have crop insurance and/or hay and pasture insurance. Well, we choose to do so to protect the cost incurred and prevent a total loss. Those premiums are not cheap, but just like health insurance, when you need it, the cost is minor, right? Not so much in our case.

We turned in our claims for our hay and pasture grounds for the severe drought we had in 2022. The adjuster called and came out. They take a 12 mile radius of data and that determines if we get paid on our claim. Well, as luck would have it, "according to their data," people within 12 miles of us got rain, but we did not. But that came from their data. We don't know anyone within 12 miles of us that got sufficient rain. We are told they are so sorry. We are not alone. This happened to others too. Well, that makes us feel so much better. (Insert sarcasm!). We have written an appeal and cancelled our policy too. BUT, not without one more kick in the teeth.

WE HAD TO SEND IN A $3000 final premium due this month. In the middle of drought and hauling water mind you. Needless to say, we sent a nice little comment written with the payment and our cancellation notice.

Farming is not for the weak. It is hard. The emotional and mental stress far exceeds the hard physical labor that these men and women incur every single day. I am happy to be a farmer's wife and the support role I play, but it is hard. So very hard. All the hours, the time, the money, the stress that is endured to feed America, takes a toll on farm families.

This blog post isn't for sympathy. There are so many others far worse off than us. We still feel blessed. This blog is to show non ag related friends and family a peek behind the scenes, and for our other kindred farm families, we want you to know you are not alone. Sometimes, things are good and we share that joy. But like everything else, some things are just ugly. This year was ugly. You may see us out smiling, but behind the scenes isn't always smiles.

Paul Harvey said it best..... now you know the rest of the story. If we can afford to do it all over again, maybe next year....


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