As we go about our busy schedules, spraying crops and/or tagging and moving cattle, it’s easy to overlook the absolute wonderment of the natural environment.
Wildlife can be a nuisance, but farmers and ranchers have an unparalleled opportunity to view all manner of birds and mammals.
From a hawk catching mice in the field, to a coyote patrolling the edge of a bush line, we often have a front row seat.
In the winter, tourists gather at ocean resorts to watch sunsets over the water. They’re rather predictable compared to the colours and patterns that often mark our sunsets. Of course, most tourists come from cities and seldom get to enjoy any sort of sunset viewing.
Unlike the tropics, our skies are ever-changing and we intuitively scan them often trying to catch a hint of how the weather may unfold. Watching an approaching thunderstorm is a true spectator sport, en-hanced in recent years by tracking the storm path and intensity with weather radar.
Think of the energy being generated across a field where the crop is emerging from the ground. We get to watch each day as the plants grow and develop.
The days of open air tractors are long gone, but there’s still a great need to poke around on foot or on an all-terrain vehicle checking for weeds and insects.
Many cattle producers still spend hours on the back of a horse. Others prefer four wheels and a throttle.
Sometimes we need a visitor from off the farm with a fresh set of perceptions to remind us of the magic.
Vacation farms and ranches try to share the natural beauty. People pay to experience a little bit of what we see and do every day.
Of course, it isn’t always pretty. Windy days and nights with near freezing temperatures in June aren’t postcard material, but in this country enduring the sub-optimal enhances the joy of the truly beautiful times.
It’s often too wet, too dry, too windy, too cold or too hot. There’s a reason why almost every conversation starts with a weather reference.
Weather affects city dwellers too, but many become almost oblivious to the seasons and only have a vague notion about whether it’s been wetter or drier than normal.
When city dwellers get to spend some time in the country, they typically develop a level of awe and envy for what we do.
Our daily tasks are all related to an ultimate goal. We run our own businesses.
We can take pride in our accomplishments, all the while working with nature and the environment.
It’s easy to get discouraged by farm life — the bills, the risk, the uncertainty, the lack of city amenities. Farm life isn’t for everyone, but sometimes when we feel discouraged we need to pause and look at the beauty around us with a fresh set of eyes.
A newborn calf, a field of canola that’s cabbaged out and covering the ground, a pair of young bush rabbits playing tag in the farm yard. Kids that have freedom to explore. Dogs and cats roaming free and enjoying the good life.
If you can make the business aspects work, farming is a great way of life. No doubt there are people who feel trapped by the farm and want to escape.
But for each person who feels that way, there are scores of others who would gladly trade in their city lives.
Kevin Hursh is an agricultural journalist, consultant and farmer. He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]