The worst drought in decades has reached farming families' personal lives, making for a year very different than they might have expected. "You probably can’t print our mood," says a South Dakota rancher. "The wife says she can’t drink enough to dull the pain of selling all the sheep." The poor weather has meant selling off land and livestock, postponing doctors' appointments, and skipping family vacations. One youth has even suffered seizures from the stress, the New York Times reports.
With the farm bill having expired Sunday, livestock producers now lack the insurance protection crop farmers will retain. The Times points to one family that sold 320 of its 350 cows, but now can't afford to feed the other 30; they'll have to sell two-thirds of their land. Other families are struggling to send their kids to their chosen colleges. And the extent of the drought's hit to revenues may not be clear until next year. Still, many farmers are taking the crisis in stride. "My granddad wasn’t a worrier, my dad wasn’t a worrier, I’m not either," says one. "It will rain. It always has." (Read more drought stories.)