Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Right at the fair

Our county fair concluded Sunday on one of the hottest days of the year. There were 110 degree heat indices. Fair officials decided mercifully to let the livestock go home early Sunday morning before the day had heated up.

Livestock suffers big time in heat and to have them struggling with hot weather plus the stress of being away from home, well, getting them off the grounds during the cool of the morning was the best thing.

As far as I know, everybody made it safely home or to market. People were dunking their chickens, soaking their hogs, aiming big fans at the cows and keeping the horses well watered. It's good to see people who know animals working to keep the critters safe and alive.

Water now

Okay, so the whole drought thing I was talking about earlier is subsiding. At least on the surface it's much better. But, like I said, droughts are funny things and you can have a rainy spell and still be in trouble.

Locally at least, our crops are going to turn out. Well, the growing season isn't over yet, but the crops are in good shape now. We've had substantial rain and the heat has broken. That'll make the season a pretty good one if we're favored from here on out.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Hot goes on and on

Yesterday, the Wisconsin State Journal carried a story about the drought. That makes it official. Governor Doyle is declaring a drought emergency which sets up the process by which the state can get federal aid and help farmers and others affected by the weather.

According to the map in the paper, Illinois is in much worse shape than is Wisconsin. People from Illinois buying sweet corn from my daughter's produce stand are telling her how wonderful things look here compared to there. There's a big high pressure ridge built in over Canada and it isn't moving.

People are wondering out loud if hurricane Emily might carry inland far enough to either bring rain to the Midwest or dislodge the stagnant high pressure dome. We'll see. Right now it looks like Emily is going to hit Mexico. It's a long way from Mexico to Wisconsin. Places farther south may benefit.

It's odd to be thinking about getting help from something as destructive as a hurricane.

Friday, July 15, 2005

All about the weather

We're in a drought. Contrary to popular myth, it will rain during a drought. It just won't rain everywhere and it won't rain very much. And oddly enough, you can even get a flood or two in the middle of a drought. That makes no sense on the surface, but it's true.

About the floods and rain in a drought; dry ground gets very hard and cracked. Along comes an isolated downpour and the water falls so fast it can't soak into the soil so it starts flowing. The result is a flood. A flood in the middle of a drought. In fact, the worse the drought gets, the more likely it is to flood.

And rain does fall during a drought. It just isn't distributed very well. Locally, we had more than an inch of rain the other day. Our crops responded to the drink with a flush of new growth. A few miles away, the crops are shriveled and pointed still searching the sky for relief.

I once interviewed a old Oklahoma farmer. The topic of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl came up and I asked him how he was able to stay and keep his farm when so many others had fled. He explained that "God just favored us, son. Each season we'd get a couple of those showers other places didn't get. It was just enough to make a part of a crop and we had just enough to keep the bills paid."

To compound the situation here, we've had high temps and some days of very low humidity. It's conditions just like this that makes me think about the nature of God. What caused the rain to fall over our little patch of earth the other day? We'll get crops. Without more rain, the yields are going to be cut. But we'll have a crop.

"God just favored us, son." I'll never forget it.