Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hard times

Sabbath morn, August 7, 2010.

I heard last night that wheat prices are soaring. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. I sold the wheat we grew about a month ago for $5.45/bushel. At harvest time, a couple of months before, wheat sold for less than $4/bushel. I figure hauling and storage costs ate most of the difference between those two numbers. The factors listed for this sudden shortage were known when I harvested my crop, but kept quiet. Now that corporations own the crop, news about Russia’s drought and sudden move to halt exports, the spread of Ug 99 wheat fungus, and pending world shortages suddenly explode into news casts. Commodity investors rush in to make a buck and the price of wheat spikes. Steinbech’s Caleb Trask has become a role model in today’s American casino.

I would have written last night, but the scorching heat of our hay fields all but sucked the life out of me. I sat at my computer in a daze for a few moments before giving up and going to bed. You’d think a man would sleep well when so tired, but when you’re body feels like you’ve been in a car wreck, it’s hard to get comfortable. I’m sure Leah gets tired of hearing me wince and moan.

We have another day of hauling left to finish this round, our third cutting of the year. The barns at Belmont are full. I hauled two trailer loads of small bales to Seguin, but decided against hauling any more. The asphalt roads were melting under the intense rays of sun and I figured I’d be on the side of those roads taking the rags of an exploded tire off in short order. Should we get rain and have more grass, I suppose I’ll have to round bale it.

Yesterday evening, a couple of illegal Americans showed up looking for work. They told me they were going to get kicked out of their rent house today if they didn’t come up with $300. I imagine this scene being played exponentially around the land. And then I imagine the potential consequences. What happens when they get kicked out? They have no family to turn to in this country. I guess they could turn themselves in to immigration police. But they won’t. There are no jobs at home either. Wonder what it costs to round up and transport 15 million people home? And then what it costs to round up and send them home again after they return?

One of my milk cows has developed mastitis in one quarter, so I’ve been treating her with antibiotics. The drug has to be squirted though a plastic syringe into the teat and she’s none too happy about the process. The recent hot weather has taken its toll on our cows as well. In the evenings they ignore their feed, standing panting in the shade with a semi dazed look in their eyes instead.

The new orphan heifer has survived and seems to be doing relatively well. Teah won’t let her nurse unless I am there to watch, but I think the calf is starting to grow on her.

In other news, the blown out well in the Gulf of Mexico has been killed and a cement plug has been installed near the top of the well. To be sure the damage has been done and the effects will linger, but at least the flow has been stopped for good. I’m not overly concerned about eating fish or other sea food from the gulf, but you can bet that a lot of plants and animals have already died as a result of that spill and no amount of remediation will give them their lives back.

53 years of life on this planet convinces me that we’re not ready to learn our lessons. Not yet. It matters not whether you believe this: hard times lie ahead. For many, hard times are here.

My cows wait, none too patiently.

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