Last night at 1a.m, I read an American article on farm stress and suicide rates (link at the bottom of the page) .Part of why I was still up at 1am is that I am stressed, so extremely stressed about our farm, farm bills, personal finances and supporting my little family not just financially but mentally as well. If I am stressed about all of the above, my husband’s stress levels are through the roof and he is starting to hit a wall.

As I sat thinking about why the article upset me so much other than the obvious reasons I realized that at this moment in time; when it comes to farming I feel like I am digging my own grave to follow my dreams.

This was my 5th harvest, that’s how long I have been farming. I am still new at this, although my husband was farming before I came along. Since I came to farming every year has gotten harder for us to make it work. Every year we dig our hole a little deeper and add more stress to our load. Every year we think we won’t be able to make it another year and then somehow we scrape enough together to get next seasons crop in the ground. I don’t want to say how many times we have talked about the possibility of having to sell land to continue on and how detrimental that would be to our mental wellbeing.

One thing that has added to my personal struggle is the realization that when I try to reach out to friends who are not farmers or in the agricultural industry for support they do not understand my stress, my anxiety or my fears and this only adds to my feelings of isolation. In 2016 we had a 10 minute hail storm come through during harvest. We should have been in the field combining but our fields were too wet to get machines into from the insistent rains we received that year. In 10 minutes our crops were destroyed and I was devastated. I reached out to an online moms group as I didn’t want to show how upset I was to the world. They tried to support me and I love them all for trying but until you have been through that you just cannot commiserate. It is not the same as having hail damage your summer garden.

I am a proud person, I do not like asking for help nor do I like airing my personal failings to others; however my feelings, my struggles and my emotions are all to common in our industry. Below are stats from a Guelph University study on farmers. It is because of these stats and the knowledge that suicide rates are twice as high in farmers in the USA than war veterans, and that in France a farmer commits suicide every 2 days, every 4 days in Australia and once a week in England that I am sharing my own struggles. You are not alone and I am here if you need someone to talk to or a shoulder to lean on. Saskatchewan farm stress line 800-667-4442

35% of farmers are suffering with depression
40% of those with depression wouldn’t seek help
45% of farmers are living with high stress everyday
58% of farmers are living with anxiety

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/06/why-are-americas-farmers-killing-themselves-in-record-numbers

9 thoughts on “I am a farmer, I am struggling and I’m not alone

  1. Good Morning Your story is a familiar thing so many things seem to be out of your control but are they really? Your stressing is pulling everything you do not want towards you. Never think about what you don’t want! Always think about what you do want as to attract it. The universe knows no difference it only delivers what you think so be careful of your thoughts! If what your doing isn’t working then change!! My Great Grandmother was widowed down east with 6 children. The hard choice was to leave them with friends and family so she could come out West to Homestead. The train brought her within 30 miles she walked those 30 miles to where I live today. As She could afford it she made hard trip back until finally they all arrived. Fast forward to 15 years ago my Good wife was doing homecare to pay for my common farming practices I was ashamed enough that I was willing to chance loosing everything in order to stop the hemorrhage of cash out!! That chance was to go Certified Organic now we do not work off Farm we sell our peas and grain for 3 times common. Our neighbors are green with jealousy but they “Can Not Afford to hear the Truth ” it worked for us. I do the field work Heather stays at home and does all my paperwork to be Certified I make a very good living from 2,000 acres. It worked for us. I feel for your hail storm it’s part of working under the sky. My only advice like my header I lost to fire this year ” if you can’t afford to loose it insurance is only answer. ” Linda Haverstock once told me ” you do not choose the Farm ……it chooses you” make some hard choices before someone does it for you. Hang in there be extra kind to each other right now it is the most important thing on your Farm. If all else fails put up a go find me account not everyone is jealous of Farmers and I would help it’s what our Grandparents did without thinking or Predudous. You do the most presdious job on the planet you feed people and are real Heroes Thank You

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  2. I know those in debt feelings. At one point we admitted defeat. We filed reorganization. It took some big changes. A lot of hard work. We were able to buy everything back. I was surprised to learn the number of successful people I respected had failure in their past. The following nights were some of the best sleep I had in a long time. It was about accepting things as they are and finding a path to fixing what’s wrong. Everyone must find their own path. Accepting my failure and making use of available help was my turning point. My bills are paid.

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  3. The struggle is real in dairy farming, too. We continue to face rising inputs and low prices. The forecast for 18 is no better. I know exactly what you mean about digging a deeper hole. But I also believe that farming is a profession of faith. Where there is faith there is hope.

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  4. Thank you so much for articulating so well what I have not been able to. Digging your own grave for your dreams, friends not being able to relate, fueling the feeling of isolation. There is comfort in seeing this is not unique to me; your dirt, sweat, and tears fall along mine. As I still choose to push for those dreams, thank you for bringing these words to life.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your story. I would love to share a link to your blog on the Slow Food in Canada page on Facebook, if that is ok. We have a lot of farmers as members. If reading your story can help them, I’d love to share it with them. Thank you. I wish you a brighter future.

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  6. I cried reading the guardian article that lead me here, and I cried again reading your blog. I came close to what I assume was a panic attack yesterday because I just shelled out my life savings to purchase the assets and infrastructure for the farm I am leasing this coming year. I live on Vancouver Island and the thought of being able to buy my own land, even though this will be my seventh year farming, is out of the question. I often ask myself why the hell I keep choosing this path. Thank you for posting your article. I too find it difficult to talk about; in my experience us farmers never seem to want to talk too openly about the financial and emotional struggles to each other because we think it will imply that we are ‘not good enough’ at farming – which is not the case. More farmers like you speaking out helps us all! Thank you and best wishes for the coming season!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I cried reading the guardian article as well and then I got very angry. Why do we have to struggle to provide a service that is essential. Why are so many farmers hurting and no one is talking about it. We need to be talking about it. I am here if you ever want someone to talk to ❤️

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