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Contradition never ending battle

Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension agent for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. Reach him at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

Glenn Brunkow mug 2018

Glenn Brunkow

It’s funny how things can change, but they really don’t. That sentence will make English teachers cringe and everyone else scratch their heads, but it really sums my life up over the past couple of weeks. Not only is it confusing, but it is darned frustrating.

A few weeks ago, maybe three or four, it looked like I wasn’t going to have any rye to bale. We were really dry, and the rye started heading out when it was eight inches to a foot tall. At that time, I was really worried about drought and whether we would have enough hay to get through the winter or grass to get through the summer.

It was about that time that Jennifer suggested that we put electric fence up around the rye and salvage what we could. I shot the idea down because 1) we needed the hay and 2) I didn’t want the cows to compact the soil if we did get rain.

Stop and think about my reasoning a second. The first reason held true if we did not get rain and the second reason held true if we did get rain. Either way I was right, but also either way I was wrong. Sometimes I feel like my whole life is one big contradiction. At the time I was not worried about if we could get the hay baled, I was worried about whether it was worth it.

Fast forward to the last two weeks. We have been getting rain, so I was right about the cows tromping up the field and making a mess. However, the rye has really grown and there is a lot more to bale, making it worthwhile. Well maybe, if I can actually get in the field and bale the rye before it gets too mature. Now I am balancing trying to decide if I will compact the soil too much with the tractor or if the hay will get too mature if I wait.

This weather pattern is just about as maddening as no rain. I do fall back to my thought that it is much easier to figure out what to do with too much rain than too little. However, I am constantly about ready to start mowing hay but the next day is a good chance of rain. In the current pattern, the weatherman is right, and we get rain. That makes it too muddy to start for two or three days. In the meantime, we get sun and some heat, and the ground dries out. Just in time for the next chance of rain.

Did I mention that I need to take the rye off to plant soybeans? I have contemplated killing it out and planting straight into it. I like that from a conservation standpoint, but the reality is I need hay. Well, I need hay, but maybe not if it is really mature with a lot of beards in it. More conflict and contradiction.

Last night we were predicted to get thunderstorms. Late afternoon and evening the storms blew up to the east of us, and I thought we were going to miss it. I was again conflicted about if I should be happy it was going to be dry or disappointed that we missed the rain. I fight the never-ending battle with conflict and disappointment.

The storms blew up and not only did we get one round of heavy rain, but we got an additional second round. So here I sit this morning conflicted and disappointed but for different reasons. I am also conflicted because I know I have friends in desperate need of rain, and here I am complaining and whining about it.

Then this morning as I stewed and fretted about not being able to bale my rye, Jennifer pointed out that if we had grazed the cows on the rye, I wouldn’t have this problem. I hate it when she is right, but I might redeem myself if the brome does not grow anymore and we need the rye for hay. So once again here I am conflicted because I am wanting the brome not to grow so I can be right but hoping it does grow so I have enough hay.

On second thought, we have been married long enough that I realize that I will not be right no matter what and in the long run, I need hay much more anyway. I realize that this too will pass and most likely in a week or two I will be wondering why I ever grumbled or complained about rain.

I like to think I lead an interesting life with a lot of freedom. The truth is that I spend most of my time paralyzed by indecision and stress. This is the life I signed up for, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is a reminder that no matter what I might want, God is in control and if I just leave it to him things will work out. If only I was good at that.

Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension educator for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. He can be reached at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

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Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension agent for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. Reach him at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

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