Soon after my wife Kim and I first met, she remarked “Wow, your family really talks about the weather a lot!” And she is absolutely right. (See Kim, I CAN admit that.) When you grow up on a farm, your life tends to revolve around the weather. Farmers definitely rely heavily on the weather to provide them with the help they need in a variety of situations. At various times it’s no frost, or more sun, or more rain (or less rain, or NO rain) and definitely no hail, EVER! And so every farmer’s livelihood (and therefore mood) is irrevocably intertwined with the weather. A great example of this is when I was talking to a Jersey tomato grower of ours. When I asked him how he was doing his answer, to a non farmer, was admittedly cryptic:
“I’m doing okay I guess, we got three-tenths last night.” Confused? Let me explain… We were in the dog days of summer. We hadn’t had a drop of rain for about three weeks. A rain system had passed through the night before that was forecasted to provide over an inch of gentle, soaking rain. And to farmers, that scenario is sweet music to our ears. BUT… we didn’t get nearly that much. So, our tomato farmer’s mood was entirely dictated by how many TENTHS of an inch of rain we received. (Here’s a simple “rain vs. satisfaction” key: 1” = overjoyed, .3” = satisfied, 0” =inconsolable)
Ironically, too much rain can be just as harmful as a drought. To most, the expression “Make hay while the sun is shining” simply means to do something when you have the opportunity. But if you are a hay farmer, it truly is the difference between making a living or not. Rain at the wrong times when you should be harvesting hay can range anywhere from a minor nuisance to a complete crop failure. A farmer generally needs three sunny days in a row to get hay cut, dried, baled, and in the barn. And until those 3 sunny days occur, the farmer can’t cut hay. (And that can mean little/no food for many farm animals.)
And usually a farmer’s preoccupation with weather & business often spills into a fascination with the weather & life. (Note Peter Wolff’s Junior Prom picture above where, no doubt, our parents insisted that he be “out in the orchard near something in bloom.”)
Farm life is also dictated by the seasons. This often creates a profound awareness and reverence for the seasonality of nature. Our store motto is “Always in Season.” When you visit Wolff’s you’ll notice that the Market’s appearance changes dramatically as we move through Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. We are simply following the lead set by Mother Nature and her seasons. If a customer happens to compliment me that the store looks beautiful, I have to readily admit that we are only just using the palette that Mother Nature has given us!
So, to get back to my wife’s comment. Yes, my family does always talk about the weather. To farmers, it often borders on obsession. I like to jokingly say that we have a codependent love/hate relationship with Mother Nature. But, when I see the beauty and the bounty that Mother Nature provides us season after season and year after year, I wouldn’t want it any other way!