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Everyone is doing their best

Drought has everyone stressed to their limits.

Jennifer M. Latzke, Editor

April 21, 2023

2 Min Read
hand holding dirt
DROUGHT GOES ON: Kansas farmers are handling the continuing drought as best as they can. Edgar G. Biehle/Getty Images

No two farms look alike. No two farmers farm exactly alike either.

What works for Farmer Jones with his available resources may not work for Farmer Smyth and her available resources. And yet, even though both farms may be vastly different in scale or crops and livestock raised, you can bet that Farmer Jones and Farmer Smyth are doing the very best they can for their family, the livestock and the land entrusted in their care.

Their best may not look like our best, but it’s still their best. Even when Mother Earth chooses to fight against us.

This drought is wearing on all of us. Talk to any farmer out here in southwest and south-central Kansas and it’s at the top of everyone’s mind. Drought, wind and dust storms, fire danger — these all combine to weigh heavily on the psyche of farmers.

I notice it in myself, and I don’t actively farm. But days of unrelenting wind and sepia-colored skies make me cross. It’s enough that I find myself responding to even minor inconveniences with more feeling than is called for. I’ve snapped at friends and family, and immediately regretted it. And I don’t have a wheat field blowing in the wind, and I haven’t had to make hard culling decisions for a cow herd.

Now more than ever, we need to give ourselves and our neighbors a break, and remember, everyone’s doing their best.

It’s up to us to help ourselves through these trying times.

  1. Check in with neighbors and see how they’re doing. There’s a time to complain and commiserate, but don’t forget to remind yourselves that there’s hope, too. Don’t end the conversation without thinking of one good thing to celebrate, rather than just focusing on the negatives.

  2. Give family members more grace than usual. Family often snaps at family because it feels like a safe space. Stressful times may lead to more outbursts than usual. It’s human nature to have arguments, but we also need to practice apologizing and forgiveness.

  3. Remember that trying times don’t last. The rains will come back. Nature’s pendulum will swing back eventually. There’s hope around every corner and in every cloud.

You’re doing your best, I know that. Your friends and family know that, too. And just because your farm doesn’t look like the neighbor’s farm, remember you’ve done all you could do in this drought. And that’s all anyone can ask of you.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer M. Latzke

Editor, Kansas Farmer

Through all her travels, Jennifer M. Latzke knows that there is no place like Kansas.

Jennifer grew up on her family’s multigenerational registered Angus seedstock ranch and diversified farm just north of Woodbine, Kan., about 30 minutes south of Junction City on the edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. Rock Springs Ranch State 4-H Center was in her family’s backyard.

While at Kansas State University, Jennifer was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and a national officer for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She graduated in May 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and a minor in animal science. In August 2000 Jennifer started her 20-year agricultural writing career in Dodge City, Kan., on the far southwest corner of the state.

She’s traveled across the U.S. writing on wheat, sorghum, corn, cotton, dairy and beef stories as well as breaking news and policy at the local, state and national levels. Latzke has traveled across Mexico and South America with the U.S. Wheat Associates and toured Vietnam as a member of KARL Class X. She’s traveled to Argentina as one of 10 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism. And she was part of a delegation of AAEA: The Ag Communicators Network members invited to Cuba.

Jennifer’s an award-winning writer, columnist, and podcaster, recognized by the Kansas Professional Communicators, Kansas Press Association, the National Federation of Presswomen, Livestock Publications Council, and AAEA. In 2019, Jennifer reached the pinnacle of achievements, earning the title of “Writer of Merit” from AAEA.

Trips and accolades are lovely, but Jennifer says she is happiest on the road talking to farmers and ranchers and gathering stories and photos to share with readers.

“It’s an honor and a great responsibility to be able to tell someone’s story and bring them recognition for their work on the land,” Jennifer says. “But my role is also evolving to help our more urban neighbors understand the issues our Kansas farmers face in bringing the food and fiber to their store shelves.”

She spends her time gardening, crafting, watching K-State football, and cheering on her nephews and niece in their 4-H projects. She can be found on Twitter at @Latzke.

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