We have a few plans in case we get another wet summer this year. First, we will be praying for the ability to
get on our fields. Then we will be signing up for crop insurance on our native hay land.
Late winter snows. Puddles growing. The Red River flooding again. With all this water, I feel the panic slowly returning. Is this year going to be another 2008? No one really knows, but the aftermath of the wettest summer ever in the Manitoba Interlake region is still to come. Ditches are full, sink holes are overflowing and the precipitation just keeps coming our way.
That familiar feeling of panic also made me realize that I hadn’t taken the time to properly thank the people who made it possible for our family to survive another year here in Narcisse. Many of them are readers of this column, so I thought it would be a suitable place to say thank you.
We were incredibly blessed with help from readers, neighbours and the Mennonite Disaster Assistance Program. Extension of the hand of human kindness to our family will never be forgotten. I cherished each and every email I received from readers extolling us with wisdom and support. We met amazingly strong people who had survived worse than we were struggling through. That helped us keep our priorities in line.
One gentlemen and his son drove a load of hay all the way from Pilot Mound. It couldn’t have come at a better time. We had little left and our pastures were not providing very much food for our goats anymore. Seeing that semi come down our road was quite seriously a godsend for our family. In true farmer fashion, we unloaded the hay and sat around our kitchen table over a home cooked meal. To my surprise, this gentleman was the cousin of the family I spent summers with as a young girl in Clearwater, Man. To him those 34 bales were just a little something he could do to help. To us, this load guaranteed that our children would be able to retain their livestock, which meant the world to us.
We never expected the help we received from so many. The most humbling was when the Mennonite Disaster Assistance Program supplied us with a donated load of straw AND they found a way to get our house roof shingled. We had explained that if we had to buy all of our hay, there was no way we were going to be able to stop the leaks in our roof. It had gotten to the point where it rained as much in the house as outside.
After being interviewed and our house inspected, they decided to help us. It was explained that they do not help with money. They are not a cash source. For us their help was a lifeline. We were beginning to feel like we were drowning and any help they could give us was gratefully accepted. We supplied our labour, the use of our tractor and loader, and helped with coffee. They did the rest. Somehow they had found donations to help with the building supplies.
The day before the crew was due to arrive, our sons and their friend spent the day removing almost all the shingles off of the roof and my husband removed all the eaves troughs so it was ready for the men. My daughter and I baked cinnamon buns and muffins to feed the crew at breakfast and coffee breaks. Lunch was to be provided by some of the wives of the crewmembers.
The following morning, a bit on the frosty side, truckloads of men descended upon our yard. Some had driven for hours to help us. We were strangers to them but that didn’t matter. It brought me back in time to the days when farmers would all congregate at one farm to have barn raisings. Some people say you can’t go back in time. I think you can and our roof is proof.
Some of the volunteers were experienced roofers who donated their time and knowledge. Others, like us, were quite willing to take instruction. We enjoyed a humbling day of fellowship and work. Now it is our job to give back if the need ever arises.
I have kept every encouraging letter and email I received last summer and fall. I found the incredible strength of character in the people who have survived hardships in agriculture before us more than touching. They have attached themselves in a special place in my heart and soul.
We have a few plans in case we get another wet summer this year. First, we will be praying for the ability to get on our fields. Then we will be signing up for crop insurance on our native hay land. We will remember that for some reason it was very important to a lot of people that we remain on the farm. That is a responsibility we take very seriously. We will also remember that when someone else out there is in dire need, it will be our turn to help.
Debbie Chikousky farms at Narcisse, Man.
Email her at [email protected]