Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rain Dance

Farmers are always talking about the weather, whether it is hot or not, sunny or cloudy, wet or dry, snow or…more snow.  Aside from just making small talk, farmers are genuinely interested in what the weather is doing in town, at the farm, and anywhere near their general vicinity for that matter.  Really, it is out of necessity as their crops and livelihood depends on it!

Talk about the weather is even more of a hot (just like the weather) topic as of recent as we are in a severe drought in our county.  This is worse than a moderate drought, but just short of an extreme drought and still far from an exceptional drought (think Dust Bowl).

The only thing that has been growing around the house is the garden because I water it every other day, and the crab grass and weeds which seem to be able to exist under all weather conditions (much to my despise).

Due to the wet year last year, our small grain crops (wheat and barley) had not been affected by the drought.  However, we wish we could say the same for the soybeans and corn.  When crops go this long without water, their production is greatly affected.

Thankfully, our soybeans and corn have not yet been as damaged by the drought as others as the leaves are not turning yellow and burning up.  When we were driving to the Cities last weekend, there were fields of corn that were just yellow from the lack of rainfall.  Farmers have insurance to cover some of their losses, but losing all of your crops to a drought can really hurt financially.

It is as if there is some vortex keeping all of the storms away from our area.  A thunderstorm would be headed our way and then dissipate into thin air, or it would split right as it was coming towards us, go around and then reform a couple of miles later.

Every morning we fire up the computer and check the local forecast and radar to see if there is any sign of possible rain.  Sometimes there is, but by the time the rain is to arrive the forecast has changed, and not for the better (better being rain).  Travis will flip channels between every newscast to see if any of the meteorologists are giving us some hope.

Prior to last Sunday, we had not received any real measureable rainfall since the end of April.  We really began to write off that it was ever going to rain.  Visions of the Dust Bowl haunted our dreams.  Okay, not really, but we were starting to get really concerned!  Although it was not forecasted to rain, Mother Nature finally decided to give us a break and with some rain she brought hail.  It wasn't exactly what we were hoping for, but we are so desperate we’ll take anything we can get!

Being the good farmwife that I am, I had been glued to the radar watching storm’s path and was giving the frequent updates to Travis and his parents who were out combining spring wheat a couple of miles northwest of the farm.

They were not touched by the storm but when it started to hail, I was informed that I had to go out and collect some.  I put on Charlie’s toy fire helmet and ran out the door!  The only issue with using the helmet was that I now think the boys (or at least Levi) think that it is for dodging hail, and not fighting fires.  Regardless, safety first!

Fire helmet as modeled by Levi.

Farmers collect hail and put it in their freezer not just because of the novelty of it; it is good to have on hand for insurance purposes as well.  Crop insurance does not cover hail, just like homeowner’s insurance does not cover flooding.  Farmers can opt to purchase additional hail insurance as protection against crop production losses caused by it.  The adjuster comes and checks out your field to determine a percentage loss in your crop.  It is also nice to have examples of the hail to prove that it actually did happen…unless you can come up with some nifty ice cube tray to do the same.

Hail that is still in my freezer.

I need to use a ruler next time as a measurement tool,
but this toy tractor is to a scale.

In the two years that we have been farming we have always purchased some hail insurance.  Last year it paid off very well when we got pummeled by a large thunderstorm.  The hail this year was not as severe, but we are getting a 5% loss, so it is worth something!

We have received some rain on and off in the last week, and one really good down pour, but we could still use some more.  I’m continuing my post watching the radar, but Charlie is doing a rain dance.

If this is what Travis and Charlie do when they are out working in the machine shed, it is wonder anything gets done around here.  Now, the real question is who Charlie gets his dance skills from?!

Bring on some rain!


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