Experts have said that none of us has ever experienced the amount of rainfall received in April and May in the Midwest this year. The unusually wet spring was the wettest on record in over 125 years! I, for one, am hoping that we don’t experience another year like this for at least another 125 years or more.

As you drive around Putnam County, you’ll notice that some fields have not been planted – and likely won’t be. The majority of fields that have been planted are well behind where they would be in a “normal” year. You’ve probably heard the adage that a successful corn crop should be “knee high by the fourth of July”. While a few Putnam County corn fields are knee high, most are lucky to be halfway there by the 4th of July this year.

Yes, this is a most challenging year for our farms and farmers. In fact, it is challenging for all who work in the agriculture industry. Our farmers are supported by many service providers who work together to proudly produce the crops that feed the world - until they can’t.

Yes, agriculture is risky business. The uncertainty of weather, disease, insect pests, yield, foreign trade, fluctuating markets and prices, and so many other factors are out of a farmer’s control. And yet, farmers continue to do what they love year after year, despite the ups and downs. Some would say that farming is in their blood. Most farmers are tied to the land.

Since farmers have never experienced a year quite like this year before, it is fair to say that many, if not all, are experiencing stress. Their family members are stressed. Those that work alongside them experience it, too. The livelihood of so many has been drastically altered this year.

Weathering the ups and downs of this year is difficult. Life experiences, health, financial stability, and so many other factors can heap more stress on individuals. Too much stress can affect the way we approach daily life – and might affect how we take care of ourselves, our families, livestock and farms.

So what can and should we do to help ease the burden of stress that others may experience this year? If someone you know or love is stressed and struggling, they may not ask for help. If you notice a change in behavior such as being withdrawn from family, friends or social situations, a lack of self-care, or inattention to livestock or farm upkeep –these may be signs that a person is not coping well with stress.

Reach out to those around you. Perhaps you can lend a hand or just a listening ear. Stop in and say hello to your neighbors. Call or check in on those you haven’t seen in a while. How are they doing? Do they need help? Could you contact another family member or their family physician?

It may be helpful to note that there are other local resources that can help those overwhelmed by stress. Pathways Counseling Center located in Ottawa, OH is one such service provider.

If you are feeling stressed, take a few moments to breathe in and out deeply. Do this five times, several times a day. Deep, calming breaths can help center you when you are overwhelmed by circumstances out of your control. If you would like additional resources on dealing with stress, particularly for farmers and farm families, please contact the extension office. We have a number of factsheets and resources that may be helpful to you.

Contact the Putnam County Extension office at 419-523-6294 or stop in at 1206 East Second Street in Ottawa. You can also find us on Facebook by searching for OSU Extension Putnam County.