To many farmers, the 2009 season may have been a year to remember...or better yet, forget. It is interesting to me that dates and events are sometimes the benchmarks of our past and a point of reference for our future. Black Tuesday, the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 are a few that come to mind.
For me personally, it is “the fire.” Most of my family history has been in reference to “before the fire” and “after the fire.” You see, when I was three years old, my entire family was in a butane explosion. It was a Sunday afternoon in June of 1964 that my parents, two brothers and little sister experienced an event that should have ended our lives.
While I don’t recall all the details, I do know that four of the six of us would be transferred from the Leland, Miss., hospital to what was soon to be called the Burn Center in Greenville, Miss. After several months of skin graft surgeries, traction and a host of doctors, we all managed to recuperate by the grace of God. While all of us still carry the scars of that traumatic event, all six of us survived, and important lessons were learned.
I share this story with you for a couple of reasons. First, this past season may have been the year that becomes the reference point of comparison for your farming operation. Whether it was torrential rainfall in the Mid-South and parts of the Southeast beginning in September to a scorching drought in south Texas, you may have felt scarred by those events.
Secondly, it is what you appreciate having survived the experience. While your scars may still be raw, there is a higher price for cotton, diminishing world stocks promoting a healthier global market and hopefully a disaster relief program to assist in your recovery.
A dear friend of mine in the cotton industry told me that he has heard that cotton is “dead” at least three times in his career. However, his tenacity, dedication and commitment to the business never wavered.
Early indications are that cotton acreage will increase throughout the Cotton Belt. Our marketing cooperative friends tell us that they have signed more acres for 2010 than they sold in 2009. And with the past years heavy on corn, cotton is now being considered the crop of choice for 2010.
My father made the decision to rebuild on the very site where the explosion occurred…right on the edge of a cotton field. While I continue to find fragments of the “old house” in the field behind their current home, I feel no shame or pain. Instead, it usually provokes a smile and a quiet laugh. Maybe it is because we all survived. Maybe it’s having 45 years to reflect on the changes it has made in our lives.
As we begin a new decade in 2010, may we remember the benchmarks of our past, including the 2009 season. But more importantly, may we remember that time makes the scars less noticeable, and these events provide us some lessons learned and advice to leave to the next generation.