By Stacy Bronec
This winter has been mild by Montana standards (not counting the week of subzero weather in February), but even so, there’s a noticeable change in the air. That, coupled with the calendar turning to March, makes it feel like spring is right around the corner. The few extra minutes of light we are gaining each day brings spring fever to a farmer. (No one notices this more than the farmer’s wife.)
Recently, I sat down with my husband, Rich Bronec, to talk to him about spring farming.
“There’s just something about the weather. Today we were working in the shop with the big door wide open—it feels like we’ve been cooped up all winter,” he says. “I’ve been thinking about spring farming since last year. Before we even finished harvest, I was thinking and planning for next year.”
Rich’s family farm and ranch is located outside of Carter—their operation is run by him, his parents, and his sister and brother-in-law. During the winter, they spend a considerable amount of time calving, but farming is his passion. Settled in the heart of the “Golden Triangle,” their biggest crop is winter wheat, which he seeded last fall. Over the years, he has continued to diversify his crops, adding flax, lentils, mustard, peas, and chickpeas—which will be planted in the coming weeks, along with spring wheat. They also raise most of their hay, which they use in the winter to feed their cattle.
“I’ve spent the winter thinking about how to improve the operation, planning out this year’s crops, doing equipment modifications, and then all of a sudden—it’s go time,” Rich says.
There’s the added excitement when planting a new field, a new crop, or using a new piece of equipment. Sometimes it’s a challenge, but Rich finds the change exciting.
You won’t run out of cliché phrases when talking about spring, but they are more than clichés for farmers. The unplanted fields are full of new beginnings, growth, and for some, a fresh start. Last year’s crop—for better or worse—is behind them. The untilled soil is filled with hope, spread out as far as the eye can see.