Kim Baldwin, McPherson County farmer and rancher
In recent days I’ve been catching up on chores I decided to put on hold during our recent weather, which caused temperatures to plummet, the sky to appear gray and gloomy, and left many in the middle of the country to adjust energy consumption in the hopes of keeping the power on.
Many of my chores that I’ve been tackling have been household related. I’ve spent a lot of time moving laundry from the washer to the dryer. It always amazes me how much dirty laundry a family of four can create. It also amazes me how quickly it can all pile up when you pause. As I’ve been chipping away at these piles, more and more of my laundry room floor, once covered by multiple hampers and piles of sorted dirty clothes, is beginning to reappear. This simple sign of progress truly makes me happy.
During the recent cold days, which kept our kids home from school because of extreme temperatures, I routinely bundled up in my layers and walked around our yard checking on things. I made sure to check on my beehives to ensure the insulation I had remained intact during the cold. I didn’t know if I had done enough to protect them and was concerned I would find my hives full of frozen, dead bees once everything began to thaw out. As the temperatures have risen and the warm sun has returned, I have noticed the bees are venturing out and flying in the warmth of the afternoons now. It’s a sight many may take for granted — let alone notice — but for me it is a simple sign promising sweet treats later this summer.
While driving throughout our area, I have also noticed that the wheat fields we planted in the fall are showing hints of green. While I’ve learned over the years wheat is tough and can survive the cold — especially if there’s a layer of snow to insulate it — I worried that it might have been too cold for too long this year. Needless to say, the hints of green that I am viewing through the windshield as I drive past are a welcome color to see. The plants still have many months to go, but this simple sign provides me with some assurance we will have a crop to harvest this summer.
The farm ponds in our area that recently froze over are slowly melting as well. The thick ice that covered the ponds and remained for an impressive number of days is now slowly dripping away, allowing the geese to return to swimming in the water instead of huddling on the ice.
The one pond in our neighborhood, which became a community meeting place for hockey and skating enthusiasts, has almost completely melted showing only a few thin floating sheets of ice serving as receipts for the recent brutal cold. The homemade hockey rink that offered many freezing days and nights full of men and boys burning off energy during some serious games while others huddled near a fire to watch the events unfold has now been deconstructed and put away.
The view of the pond now is that of hundreds, if not thousands, of geese floating on the water and enjoying the warmth of the sunlight. The image of the congregation of people on the ice during the recent freezing, dark days I have etched in my mind along with the views of these birds returning to the water in the sunlight is a simple sign of community gatherings throughout a variety of degrees.
It’s strange to think that simple signs are all around us daily. May we all occasionally notice these signs and allow them to energize and power us as we move forward and return to our normal routines following the brutal cold.
"Insight" is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state's largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service. Copyright © 2021 Kansas Farm Bureau, All rights reserved.