John Phipps: Rainy Day Syndrome Taking Over Farms Across the Country

07:55AM Oct 21, 2019
Rainy-day Syndrome is something John Phipps says many farmers can relate: persistently postponing indoor or non-harvest related work – like catching up the books – until you are forced out of the field.
( Farm Journal )

Much of the eastern cornbelt harvest has not been hampered by excessive rain. In fact, we’ve had a long run of warm, even hot, days with merely light showers from time to time. Our only holdup has been waiting for crops to be ready to cut. The urgency of harvest is reflected in a pattern of behavior I call rainy-day syndrome. This is when you persistently postpone indoor or non-harvest related work – like catching up the books – until you are forced out of the field. Only you rarely actually do any of those tasks. Instead you rest, or more accurately, collapse. Looking back, I’m amazed at how I am still able to convince my brain I will knuckle down to a list of non-field chores as soon as we’re stopped by weather. I mean, for forty-plus years I have fooled myself into thinking this would happen. To be sure a long rainout, like a week or more, heaven forbid - might see some of those less popular tasks get done, but the first day or two is going to be downtime, in more ways than one.

Concentration is one key reason – or rather the lack of it. Until you finish the last row, it is seldom far from your thoughts. Even if you do knuckle down and dutifully attack your rainy-day jobs, they will take longer and likely be done less than perfectly. This year, a glance at the calendar reinforces that obsession with harvesting. It’s not the 20th of September.

Planting and harvest have nearly sacred importance in farm communities and are accepted locally as absolution for any number of shirked duties, not just those on our farms. From choir practice to board meetings, it’s a get out of jail free card we play too often and unjustifiably. In fact, some of us often forget that we actually finished a few weeks ago when dodging those obligations.

I hope your harvest is going well. There are more than a few problems out there to be overcome. And when you can’t get in the field, I hope you can find your rainy-day list. It would be a real shame if you couldn’t.  

John's World 10/19/19