On July 2, 2018
Ask any farmer or rancher what a typical day is like and you’ll probably get a good laugh as your answer.
“There is absolutely no typical day,” says Nicole Small of 2S Land and Cattle in Neodesha.
Sure, there are things they do throughout every season, but no two days are alike. Often crops, cattle and Mother Nature dictate what needs to be done in any 24-hour period (or even over the course of an hour — this is Kansas, after all!).
For example, on a windy Kansas day, crops can’t be sprayed and controlled burns can’t be started — farmers and ranchers have to ensure nothing spreads that shouldn’t.
The growing season will generally determine whether farmers are planting or harvesting on a particular day, but they still have to inspect the crops to see if they need attention — like spraying to guard against insects or replanting due to flooding.
And ranchers? They’ll often sum up their duties as “working cattle.” But that can include anything from feeding or health and wellness checks to breeding and delivering calves — the love lives of cattle require a lot of management!
Farmers and ranchers also have to maintain and repair their equipment and property — anything from engines to fences. Again, the weather plays a part because lots of rain or snow could mean they need to bring the work inside somehow.
On top of all this, there’s the business side of the operation to run. Tracking and analyzing genetic traits of livestock and estimating crop yields are a big part of managing and sustaining their operations. Plus, there’s “normal” business stuff like bookkeeping, logistics, market pricing, employee supervision — there’s lots to be done.
And like with any family, there’s also…well…family to look after!
“You’re still a mom and a dad,” Nicole says. “We all have the same issues.”
On the Small’s farm, the children play an active role, gardening, helping with chores and even looking after a few of their own livestock. But, just like all families in today’s hyper-busy world, the kids’ activities like soccer and 4-H mean Nicole has a complicated schedule to coordinate — plus a lot of chauffeuring duties.
Although they never know what they might be up to from one day to the next, there is one certainty — farmers and ranchers are always on call.
Just because a farmer comes in from the field doesn’t mean it’s the end of the day. It’s a 24/7 operation.