The grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence.
When living in the north, it is easy to look at how things are in the south and feel a bit jealous. Especially with farming or gardening, the longer seasons, better soils, more rain, the list can go on and on. It can get quite discouraging at times if you let it.
But the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and it isn’t always easier to farm on the prairies.
I still have family living and farming in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, so I visit from time to time.
One spring, the sloughs and dugouts that should have been brimming with water were bone dry. While the farmers could plant earlier, there was no guarantee that anything would sprout with very little moisture.
This past year, it was the opposite. It was still an earlier spring and hopes were high. But if the seed wasn’t in the ground when the rains started, it didn’t get planted at all.
My brother was one of the farmers who didn’t get a seed planted. At the time it was easy to look over the fence and envy the newly sprouted grains. Until the rains wouldn’t stop, and those same fields became lakes and streams.
Those seeds then were either washed away or rotted where they were. Flooding in different towns and the washing away of one side of a twinned highway were some of the headlines I watched this summer.
I also heard first-hand accounts from friends and family. The soil was so saturated this spring that my brother got stuck on top of a hill. And he spent the summer warring with a family of beavers that decided to dam an area and flood his hayfield.
While I teased them that they should have planted rice, part of me was very glad to live in an area where we have very good drainage and are considered semi-arid.
When the rains finally stopped and the sun came out, those fields that had been planted and hadn’t washed away really took off. With all the moisture and the heat, the plants seemed to make up for lost time and it looked as if there was going to be a bumper crop in some areas.
As things started to ripen, the rains started again. Those farmers who had been envious of their neighbours now were glad this was one problem they didn’t have to deal with.
Things did finally dry up enough to harvest but the threat of rain was always there. My aunt even said, “I have never worked so hard for so little”. The stress of harvesting this year must have been unbearable.
I once read somewhere that the best situation to garden in is where you have control of the water that goes to the plants. After watching what unfolded on the prairies this past summer I have to agree.
While we had to keep water on our gardens at all times, we still were able to have a good year growing food.
The grass can be greener on our side of the fence, too.