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Don’t lose control as drought lingers

allensima/Getty Images Weathered farmers hand with drought stricken land
STRESSFUL TIMES: Drought conditions sweeping across the Plains can take a toll on crop and livestock production, as well as casting an emotional toll on producers. Don’t overlook the need to take care of yourself during stressful times.
Seek production and personal assistance while managing drought.

Have you ever felt like you are losing control?

Everyone has different pressure points or certain issues that trigger anxiety. The past year-plus has brought on a whole different level of anxiety when COVID-19 first entered our lexicon. Now it seems like this coronavirus has become and remains a daily topic.

Accurately or not, I fear that COVID-19 will remain in our language going forward, though I am not sure it still merits daily headlines. A local newspaper continues to report the daily COVID-19 cases for the region, even though some days, there are no new cases. Is it news if there are no new cases? That’s like a newspaper running the headline: “No shootings in Minneapolis.”

Is it news if nothing happens? Maybe, those are the days that we do indeed need to see the headline: “No new COVID cases.”

Non-event headlines

The continued and worsening drought has been grabbing headlines across a lot of America. Headlines declaring “No rain today,” “No rain yesterday” or “No rain in the foreseeable future” sadly could be blazoned above the fold on far too many news sources across the American Heartland.

In the case of the pandemic, “nothing new” headlines are good news, but as we all know the “nothing new” on the drought front is not.

Regardless of your farm’s practices, there may be some methods that can help offset or soften the blows of a drought. But a severe drought can even negate some of those best practices. It still may be worth investigating other options.

Even though the drought appears to be widespread across North Dakota and South Dakota, some pockets have it worse than others. With that in mind, if you may be short on feedstuffs, maybe another area of your state or even across state lines may have received enough moisture, and have ample hay or other forages available. In some cases, the feedstuffs may not be baled, but ranchers would welcome opening their pastures or rangeland to your livestock.

Some states have grazing exchanges that can pair up ranchers looking for feedstuffs with other landowners who may have pastureland or cover crops available for grazing. The South Dakota Soil Health Coalition manages the South Dakota Grazing Exchange and it may provide opportunity.

Seek help

Most states’ Extension services also offer myriad resources to aid livestock feeders to get through the tough times of droughts through different grazing options, as well as providing avenues to help on the personal side of working through anxieties brought on by drought and other hurdles.

To help manage stress, Sean Brotherson, North Dakota State University Extension family science specialist, in a press release suggests, to take control of these factors:

Events by planning ahead. Discuss who can be available to help before key seasons or decision-making times. Make time to set priorities so you can focus on what needs to be done today and what can wait.

Attitudes that influence you. Identify the sources of the stress you have, and which ones you can and cannot change. Shift your focus from worrying to problem solving. Notice what you have achieved rather than what you did not accomplish. Set goals and daily expectations that are realistic. How you view a situation is a key factor in creating or eliminating stress.

Responses to stressful conditions. Take a break when feeling stressed and focus on relaxing your body and mind. Take multiple deep breaths slowly and let go of unwanted stress. Think positive thoughts, balance work and play, find someone to talk to and seek help when you need it.

I cannot wait to see the headline across every U.S. news source declaring the “Drought is over!” Until that time comes, we all have to settle into our shared dryness. Seek practices that may help you endure future droughts, and don’t overlook ways to cope with the mental and emotional toll current situations may be placing on you personally.

Remember good, bad or otherwise, we are all in this together.

TAGS: drought
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