By Julie Tomascik

You think farming is easy?

It can seem that way from the outside looking in. Plant seeds. Watch them grow. And harvest the crop a few months later.

That’s how it works in the garden, right?

Yes. But this is different. It’s running tractors and plows. Early mornings. Late nights. Farmers and ranchers hedging their bets that their crops and livestock will be a success.

They endure the demands of the field. Market swings can take their toll. And your consumer opinion could leave a harvest at risk.

It ain’t easy.

Like right now. Steady rains and freezing temperatures make it tough on crops, livestock and farmers.

Cotton harvest is once again stalled in Texas as much of the state receives another round of rain. Some areas have recorded 20-30 inches of rain since September.

Continued rain is bad for crops, especially cotton. And along the Coastal Bend, farmers were counting on this year’s cotton crop after last year’s was devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

Then there’s the countless hours spent in the fields and pastures working the land. The sweat. Blood. A few tears. And thousands of dollars for fuel and equipment.

Yet farmers and ranchers keep going.

Even when it sometimes means spending many early mornings and late nights away from family and friends. Or missing a few special events, like weddings, birthdays and ballgames.

And lying in bed at night, they say their prayers, too—for their family, friends and consumers like you and me. For their crops and livestock. For good weather.

Because they work for more than just themselves and carry a heavy burden. Only a few—about 2 percent—are tasked with feeding a growing population amid daunting regulations.

And, after all that, a paycheck isn’t waiting every two weeks.

Farming and ranching ain’t easy.

But it’s the satisfaction of a hard day’s work and of doing something for others. Fulfilling dreams. And facing the uncertainty with faith and optimism.

Farmers and ranchers are the beating heart of Texas agriculture. And our future.

A version of this blog was originally posted June 7, 2016.