cattle in flood waters Joe Raedle/Getty Images
STANDING STRONG: Farmers and ranchers are able to overcome weather events like Hurricane Harvey because of their resolve to feed, clothe and fuel America.

Forget Tough Mudder: Be thankful for tough rancher

College Farmer: Adversity in rural America yields a tough breed of farmer.

By Laura Bardot

With the recent flooding in Texas from Hurricane Harvey, the out-of-control wildfires in Montana, the flooding that devastated Missouri in April and May and the wildfires that blackened the Great Plains, I will say American farmers and ranchers are tough.

As I scrolled through my newsfeed on Facebook, I saw picture after picture, video after video of Texas cattlemen scrambling on horseback to get their cattle and other livestock to higher ground. I saw Texas cotton farmers scouting the damage of high winds and rising water levels, with their cotton bales scattered across what once were their record-yielding fields.

In spring, I saw countless photos of scorched cattle carcasses across the Flint Hills of Kansas. I heard about and saw the countless hay convoys that traveled hundreds of miles to help strangers feed their stock. I watched as my sister and her veterinary classmates donated fencing supplies, water and feed to people they will never meet.

Back in April, when I was home, I saw acres upon acres of freshly planted corn and soybeans be destroyed within hours by flash floods. I saw farmers look out on their fields, probably thinking, “How am I going to get through this?”

There is only one word that can describe the natural disasters farmers and ranchers face — devastation.

Yet, as farmers and ranchers, if there is one thing we learn from this way of life, it is to keep going. It is to get back up and give it all you've got. It is literally getting back up on your horse and trying again and again. In tough times like these, farmers and ranchers show true grit and determination, not defeat.

So what makes America's farmers and ranchers so tough?

• While fields are underwater and barns blown away, farmers are still doing what they can with their resources to provide you with food three times a day. They are out there with their livelihoods destroyed, yet they are still caring for the land and their animals.

• Their careers are destroyed — or close to it — and yet, farmers and ranchers get up before dawn and put in a 40-hour week by Wednesday and carry on with their lives.

• Through calloused hands, backaches, bruises and bumps, farmers and ranchers will not rest until the land and animals are cared for.

• No matter where farmers or ranchers live, there will be some point in their lives where they will see drought, flooding, poor yields and more — and yet they will keep planting, growing and raising your food.

Always remember to thank the good Lord for another day, and when you harvest your first row of corn or beans, or when your first calf of the year hits the ground, or when your old sow has another litter — because you never know when devastation may hit. And when that day comes, the American consumer can count on farmers and ranchers to rise above and persevere, because they are the toughest of the tough.

Bardot is a University of Missouri science and agricultural journalism student. Email her at [email protected].

TAGS: Farm Life
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