When I think about how the rainy weather has affected the farming community, a lot of items “flood” my mind. Flooding has been in the news from Kansas to South Dakota since springtime. Yet in the midst of excessive moisture and hardship, I have found hope in Jesus.
Our weather story in east central South Dakota started last year (2018). The crops suffered all summer because of drought, and grass in the pastures was short.
We had a nice fall, but in January 2019, the weather turned for the worse. Church was cancelled a number of times because of snow and cold. Never have I welcomed springtime as much as I did this year. It seemed like it would never warm up. But when the snow did begin to melt, it started to rain. The ground was still frozen, and culverts were not yet open, so water flooded the roads.
The snow returned in late April—24 inches in one storm. It came during calving, stressing humans and livestock to the max. The blizzard conditions meant many newborn calves did not live long—whether from exposure to snow and wind or from being trampled by the herd. When the snow melted, we found calves that we did not know had been born.
The weather also affected our crops. With the late spring and continuing rain, we could not put crops in the ground in a timely manner. All across the cornbelt, farmers were a month or more behind in planting. The rain totals kept climbing—we are now at 300 percent of normal—and stress levels rose as we waited to do what we love: plant the seed.
South Dakota had the highest amount of preventive planting in the country. Many farmers only seeded 25-50 percent of their crops. The adverse weather also left the infrastructure, like roads and bridges, needing serious repair.
The weather has not only affected farmers but also businesses providing seed, fertilizer and herbicides. A high percentage of seed was returned to dealers. Fertilizer, chemicals and equipment purchased last winter were not being used. Uncertainty reigned.
The weather has not been the only stress culprit. Prices for the commodities have been equally stressful. Tweets about tariffs have sometimes caused market prices to fluctuate more in an hour than they did in a year.
One early Saturday morning, a hailstorm and high winds caused damage to our crops. We had hail on every field except one, and the wind blew so hard that corn stalks snapped off below the ear of corn.
As I drove around after the storm, I felt a little dejected and sorry for myself. I told God, “I know the crop is yours, but I am happy to do the harvesting.” Then I drove past the farm of a family who was driving two and a half hours daily for radiation treatment. That helped put my troubles into the right perspective.
Farmers are not the only people who have stress in their lives. Everyone is probably dealing with items in their daily walk that are almost unbearable. So, where is the hope that we so desperately long for? It definitely isn’t in crops or livestock or sales or teaching or doctoring or trucking or homemaking or cooking or well… the list goes on.
Hope just happens to be my favorite word. Not the hope that “I sure hope my car starts” or “I hope that I pass my test,” but rather the hope that comes from the words of a hymn: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ, my righteousness.” If somehow we can have this type of hope, then hardships can become bearable.
God gave us his son, Jesus Christ, to be our hope. When circumstances flood my life, hymns like this one remind me of the hope I’ve placed in Jesus: “What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see. When I look upon his face, the one who saved me by his grace. When he takes me by the hand and leads me to the Promised Land, what a day, glorious day that will be.”
That is exactly what hope is to me.
Ludwig Hohm is from the Huron, South Dakota, area and attends Bethel MB Church in rural Yale. He graduated from James Valley Christian School in 1972 and received his bachelor’s degree in agronomy from South Dakota State University, where he met his wife, Julie, during a Bible study. Hohm farms corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa, has a cow-calf operation and does custom farming and hay grinding. He is blessed with great employees that allow him to be on various boards, including the Huron Chamber, Bethel Church elder board, Central District Conference church plant committee and USMB Leadership Board. Their family includes son Jesse, his wife, Katie, and their four daughters who live near Huron and daughter Susanna and her husband, Dan Strutz, who live in Mountain Lake, Minn.