I have never been in a hurricane. I have watched a tornado throw a trampoline into a tree and a straight-line wind distort a hoop barn into a shape I didn’t know was possible without it breaking. But, never a hurricane. I imagine a hurricane to be similar to the time I was taking the cows to the pasture and a 4-inch downpour occurred in the time it took me to get back to the barn from the far side of the farm except with more wind.
    Everywhere we travel, I can’t help but participate in a bit of agricultural tourism. Even a trip to the next town down the road from ours requires careful observation of all the fields and animals passed along the way. It’s what comes of being in an occupation your whole life. It is not possible to drive around without checking on things whether your own or other’s. There are stories about my grandfather’s issues with driving relating to his inability to continue in a straight line if he turned his head to check out a field or cows in a pasture. Thankfully, I seem to be generally capable of staying in my lane while looking at all the farms we pass, or Emily would probably not let me drive us anywhere.
    On our trip in Puerto Rico, we did a fair amount of driving around the island in our little rental SUV mostly on winding mountain roads. That sort of driving required considerable attention to driving as the roads were closer to one lane than two, and the local custom appears to be to drive them as if it were a race. Fun driving but not the best kind for observing all the farming going on within view of the road. Nonetheless, I found plenty of moments to look away from the road to see groves of avocados, banana trees, and lots of Holsteins, Holstein crossbreds and beef cattle grazing happily on some tall rather coarse looking species of grass.
    Being spring in Minnesota, naturally my thoughts constantly turn to mud. It’s hard not to think of mud this time of year. It’s on your boots when you step out of the barn or tractor. It’s on your pants when you accidentally walk too close to a tire. It’s everywhere. Farms who have cattle on pasture year round like us or who daily haul manure, also us, have a close relationship with soil in its liquid form. Thinking on our trip while feeding the other day, I got to thinking about those dairy farms in Puerto Rico. It doesn’t just rain there, they have hurricanes there. How does one deal with the kind of mud that must result from 12-plus hours of sideways buckets of rain? Like I said at the beginning of this article, I don’t know as I’ve never had the experience, but I bet we’ll all get a little taste of it soon. Warm weather is here, and rain is in the forecast. The frost will soon be gone, and soon there will be phone calls made requesting a bigger tractor and some chains.
    Here’s hoping this is a quick spring and you get a minimum number of things stuck in the mud. Until next month, keep living the dream and be careful where you step. Sometimes the mud is deeper than it looks.
    Tim Zweber farms with his wife Emily, their three children and his parents Jon and Lisa by Elko, Minnesota.