Our farm is located on the Mason-Dixon Line, the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland. Given the proximity, perhaps there are other readers of Lancaster Farming who will be able to relate to our current circumstances.
In the 20 years of our farm’s operation, this has been the toughest one yet. And it’s just the beginning of August.
Let’s recap. Soon after the first plantings of several crops, we had 25 days with no rain and almost daily temperatures around 90 degrees.
Following this stretch, we received 17 inches of rainfall in five days.
Adding to this weather calamity, we have observed that the deer population has reached new dimensions in size and brazenness. These critters are so tame, they are routinely spotted munching in our fields in the middle of the day, quite oblivious to our presence.
What can it possibly mean that for the first time last week we witnessed deer devouring zucchini? We have never seen that before.
They seem to ignore fish oil, Irish Spring, hot pepper and other repellents (yes, we know, we haven’t used enough lead).
Needless to say, our production numbers are totally out of whack this season.
We have lost several crops to drought, sadly having to plow under acres and acres of green beans that never got a chance.
Despite ample amounts of transplant water, thousands of our cabbage plugs were lost due to the unrelenting heat.
A recent irony is that one of the replanted drought-stricken snap bean fields was actually lost to rot, due to 19 inches of rain at that particular field.
And now the loss of sweet corn to deer foraging has reached unprecedented proportions.
Actually, it’s a misnomer to call it foraging. It’s more like we set a table for the local deer population.
Elsewhere in our nation, wildfires too numerous to count burn across land masses the size of small states and continue to rage, while volcanoes spew molten lava into the atmosphere and across the landscape.
And yet, we are not downtrodden, neither despairing nor destroyed.
As the saying goes, we do not know what the future holds — but we know who holds it.
Times like these send us right into the Psalms, where we can find authors from thousands of years ago pouring out emotions that run the entire spectrum of human experience.
This always brings the reader back into alignment with the God of the universe, who is sovereign over all.
Psalm 46:1-3 proclaims that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
In what can be a time of confusion and uncertainty, we are assured.
“He says, ‘Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth’” (Psalms 46:10).
Knowing that God is sovereign means that we can trust in his plans and purposes. Even in the midst of great loss and suffering, Job was able to declare, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).
The trouble for us is that we want to figure it all out when our faith tells us not so fast.
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
In extreme times like this we are reminded how much we take for granted. In our temperate Maryland climate, we have come to expect generally favorable growing conditions.
And indeed, most seasons here have ample and timely rain, favorable temperatures, and manageable problems. During these “normal” seasons, most of us probably don’t reflect and marvel at what an incredible and orderly world God has created for us to enjoy.
Perhaps like us, you too are shaking your heads and wondering what could be next on the horizon for your farm, your families and our nation.
Thankfully, in faith we know that God never says, “I did not see that coming!” In fact, he is way ahead of us, calling us forward to his purpose and plan, and calling us to himself.