Life on the farm for a young boy was usually very fun and exciting except for a few times when I had to perform some unpleasant task such as cleaning out the pig pen. This was also the case for my father, except the unpleasant task was trying to pay bills when the crop had failed. This happened several times and in different ways.
One particularly brutal way happened one summer with the sweet cherry crop. My father owned about five acres of sweet cherry trees and the cherries were at the peak of perfection and ready to be picked. It was the middle of July and very hot during the day. The pickers, mostly native Americans, were all lined up and ready to work, the ladders were set up and the boxes were spread out. It was 8:00 am and we were ready to start. That is when a cold front moved in.
With thunder and lightning and much bluster, the rain poured down. This storm lasted about ten minutes. The cherries on the trees hung down by the stem and the little indentation at the top of the cherry filled up with water. The sun came out and slightly heated the water and the cherries cracked all around the top. This, of course, ruined the fruit. The much-anticipated and hoped-for crop had been destroyed in about ten minutes.
This was a big loss for my father and our family, but it was a disaster for the workers who had hoped to take home some much needed cash. My brothers and I collected the ladders and stored them in the barn and put all of the boxes away ready to be used another year. We all hoped for a better outcome the next year.
by Richard Gappmayer
Note from Jennifer: Farmers are often at the mercy of the weather. I remember my dad using smudge pots in the orchard if there was a late frost and irrigating the raspberries because there was no rain. Working the land reminds us of our reliance on God and the tender mercies he grants to all his children. May we all have abundant crops this year.