As you probably know, farming schedules follow the seasons. Some seasons are seasons of harvest while others are seasons of rest. My dad has always said that farming is a lifestyle. When we were young, that lifestyle included vacation schedules that were opposite of what many other people follow.
Instead of Summer vacations, we went on adventures during the winter when the farmland was resting. I remember my parents planning fun trips to the beach and Disney World and Colorado for skiing around our Christmas breaks at school. It was always special to get to skip out on a few of the last days of the semester to get to travel with my family.
We only took a week off, but the land needs to rest for several months. This is what rice land looks like during the winter while the cold weather helps break down the previous year's crop residue. We can’t see anything happening in these rice fields, but underneath it’s going through the necessary healing process. The land gets a whole season to be still and produce nothing.
In fact, the rice fields shown in these pictures are actually receiving instead of giving like they do during the growing season. The thousands of ducks and geese that migrated here for the winter have replenished the nutrients in the soil that it generously gave to last year’s crop while enjoying the rice that fell on the ground during harvest.
It’s getting ready to repeat the next stage in the natural cycle. Even though we can’t see what’s going on under the rich soil, potential is building.
While the farmer may have the opportunity during the winter months to take his family on vacation, he doesn’t have several months to rest like the land. This is the time to plan for next year. Many questions are swirling around in his mind.
Which variety of rice will produce the highest yield with the least amount of cost input? How can he recycle the water more effectively to avoid paying a higher electric bill for pumping and preserve the environment? What if he tries alternating the water levels to avoid stagnant water and reduce greenhouse gases?
Spring is just around the corner, and both the rice land and the rice farmer will be ready. He will have crunched his numbers, secured his funding and refurbished his equipment.
The land will have healed by receiving valuable nutrients from the waterfowl that had the privilege of a place to spend the winter. Agriculture is full of symbiotic relationships. This is another great example of the partnerships that are mutually beneficial and will bring them right back here next year.