One Foot

One Foot

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day and Lessons Learned

A lifetime of Susie

            Mother’s Day finds me I a reflective state, musing about the impact my own mother had on my life.  She died about fifteen years ago leaving a forever impression on my life and heart.
            I was my mother’s caregiver the last two years of her life and although I often found this difficult, I also find my experience is one now to be shared with many friends who are dealing with their own parents.  It is often so painful to deal with our loved ones’ declining mental or physical health, let alone the increasing loss of their independence.  It is likely a strain on finances, a drain on available time, and a weight on the heart.
            I listened to a brief interview this morning with the contemporary Christian singer, Amy Grant as she shared thoughts which led to her new album; This is How Mercy Looks From Here.   She described a time in her own life when she, too, cared for her parents.  She was dealing with many problems as they aged and suffered from dementia. Overwhelmed and frustrated, she shared her feelings with a close friend, who thoughtfully responded,
A Moment of Peace
            “Take a deep breath.  Don’t you see?  This is the last great lesson your parents will teach you.”
            Tears came to my eyes as I listened.  From her own life, Amy Grant had learned to reframe an experience to see its value.  I could only empathize as I reflected on those difficult years with my own mother.  It was indeed her last great lesson for me.
            It is a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I have lunched with one son and chatted with the other.  I am a happy mother, pleased with the men who are my sons.  I continue to live my life loving them and hope I leave them richer as a result.  Is there any greater joy than motherhood? Are we not always teaching?

The interview with Amy Grant may be heard at, May 12, 2013 Weekend Edition, For Amy Grant, Beauty and Tragedy Give Way to Mercy.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Wheat Farming Isn't for the Weak in Spirit

As a daughter of a Kansas wheat farmer, I have many memories of crop disasters and appreciate the hardships faced by these families.  In those years, we didn’t have crop insurance and if the wheat died, it was a tough year.  I specifically remember years when hard hail took the wheat down at the peak of the growing period.  In my mind is an image of my Dad standing at the edge of an eighty acre field, crying after a total loss.

Well, Kansas weather has made the news this year with unpredictable dryness, wetness, wind, cold, and untimely snow and sleet.  We are experiencing the third year of drought.  Our wheat was happily growing with several inches of good rain and snow, but recently we have had three weeks of freezing temperature.  For those unfamiliar with wheat farming, wheat can be killed if the temperature goes too low at a time when the wheat grain stalk is maturing.

This week, experts hit the road in Kansas to diagnose how severe the crop loss was.  I found the photos and explanations very helpful in understanding their findings. Ag experts were in the fields looking for damage from two problems:  continuing drought as measured by the moisture available in the subsoil and 2) damage to the plant stems from freezing temperatures.

Normal wheat
The measures taken seem fairly straight forward, if tedious.  They walk into fields all over the state and take random samples.  They test potential yield by counting the number of wheat stalks per foot and also pulling up plants to determine the depth of the plant roots, indicating soil moisture.

Gonna lose it
Plant damage from freezing was determined by examining the plant for damage.  I have provided photos to illustrate what happens when a plant freezes.

I haven’t heard the report of my own crop yet, but if it was damaged, it would have been from the freeze this week.  My county had abundant rain and the wheat was looking healthy.  Besides hoping for an income from the crop this year, I’d like to feel a little success as a farmer.  As we say here, it sure seems like it’s been a long dry spell for farmers.