Sunday, March 16, 2014

Slo Mo Gamblers

Farmers are the ultimate slo mo gamblers, and I think so because of my short experience with Kiva, and conversations with a praying farmer's wife near Innisfail, Alberta. I likely have farmers on the brain from our field trip to Prince Albert last weekend. There were farmers chewing the fat at the gas station in Turtleford, and grain dominated the news.

If you haven't heard of Kiva before, this is a micro-loan site that matches investors with small enterprises throughout the world. I have helped grocers, shopkeepers and clothing resellers achieve their dreams by investing a few dollars towards their efforts. I was paid back in full every time, and usually within a few months. One payback took longer, and that was the rice farmer co-op in Rwanda. I waited a full year for my investment in seed and fertilizer to be realized. Which gave me my aha moment; farmers wait longer to see their return! My farmer had to wait a full year for his initial investment to pay off. Out of his control are vagaries of weather, social disruption, and the final price of rice that year. Even bumper crops can hurt him, as he won't get the anticipated price for his crop. We are seeing the results of unexpected returns here in Saskatchewan now, with piles of grain standing in the field with no place to go. What should have been a windfall is hindered by a limited infrastructure.

Time Elapse, Wheat

All right, pharmaceuticals might have a longer period of return and higher risk. Even so.

Then there are my fond recollections visiting a Timothy farm near Innisfail, Alberta. My friend described how her prayers changed after years of watching the sky, praying for rain and sun at the right time. Her emotions would follow the clouds, rising and crashing with their fortunes. Her revelation is to pray in trust that whatever may come; rain, sun, prosperity or disaster, that God is in it all.

As an aside, with the increased mobility that phones and apps offer, farmers are leveraging the power of the internet to manage their business, for instance "Cloud for Cows". 

Farmers, the ultimate high-stakes gamblers. In slo mo. Oilmen, you have nothing on them.