We were processing our chicken flock outside under our pop up tent in the humid, awful heat that has pervaded us of late, when the skies clouded up and it began to gently rain.
“What’s this wet stuff?” I said to my colleagues, who chuckled.
For the past month and a half, we’ve been schlepping hose around our property, trying to water an acre of vegetable garden and two acres of orchard (across the road) off of our house well. Because the past few years have been exceptionally wet, we’ve delayed setting up formal irrigation for the orchard or the gardens. This year, though, we’re in danger of running our house well entirely dry.
We finished our clean up in what became a steady downpour, cleaned ourselves off as best we could, and went out to find a well deserved meal. Coming back from the restaurant we drove through a torrential downpour. Coming back home, we discovered the sudden onslaught of water had been too much for the tent but good for all else; one inch of rain had fallen in the space of 15 minutes, more than enough to last all of our gardens for the whole week.
Because of that rainfall, we’re not officially in a drought; it is merely “abnormally dry“. We’re lucky to be small enough to be able to irrigate our gardens. We’re lucky that we’re not the kind of farmers caught up in the Monsanto soy bean and corn production scam. Luckily, our gardens and orchard are relatively productive this year. But our luck could run out in the blink of an eye; a hailstorm, a microburst, a major insect invasion, a cold snap– all these could wipe us out in minutes.
This has not been a stellar year for agriculture. The maple crop was cut short by the mild winter and subsequent March heat wave. Then a cold snap in early April devastated the tricked out fruit trees. A hailstorm and flood did in the rest a few towns west of us. The midwestern drought is killing off the corn and soybean crop, which means the livestock which most of the nation has been duped into eating will have nothing to feed on. Still, since we as a nation view food as a commodity, and a cheap one at that, the only thing that we can think of is that our grocery bill will go up. No one can imagine a world where the shelves are actually empty because there is no food to buy.
We won’t notice, for awhile, because distributors and food processors will search far and wide across the globe for the necessary corn to fill up your Snickers bar and your sirloin steak and your Diet Coke. There will still be apples, peaches, blueberries, watermelon–albeit from across the seas where conditions this year aren’t as harsh as they are here. The good times will last a little while longer while the ground gets dryer and dryer and the farmers who are producing the very stuff you live on go deeper into debt and finally throw in the towel. It’s a free country, right? It’s okay if a basic commodity becomes a liability, because we all live and die by our own swords and we all have a choice in what we do… right? If farmers don’t want to farm anymore, that’s okay… as long as they pay off their debts. That’s taxpayer money, you know. Eventually, though, as humans consume more and more and care less and less, the demand for simple food –let alone your highly processed, HFCS and pink slime laden grocery store specials– will outstrip the global supply. And when that happens, it won’t matter how much cash you press at the cashier. They still won’t have a loaf of bread for you.