Sour Grapes and Saddle Sores
Surviving a Dry Spell August 18.2005
For the past five or so years, with the help of Larry Meaker and Ross Streitmatter who report for the National Weather Service, I have noted a shortage of rainfall. Each year there was enough rain to produce good production, but the subsoil was dry and we wondered when it would end. All of us know that this crop year is worse. The rain gauges have reported very little rain and the temperature has been over ninety for a lot of days.
We all have complained and we all know that complaining about the weather does no good. It is a major factor in our living that is out of our control. But the question for the week is, "How does one survive a dry spell?"
I grew up in Kansas during the dirty thirties. I remember those hot and dry years when dust storms prevailed. The combination of hot and dry years with high winds and blowing dust due to weather condition created a disaster that is very much present in my mind.
In those days the landscape was flat with nothing to break the winds. Farmsteads sometimes had trees around them but no long lines of anything to break the wind. We had a neighbor who farmed a field in western Kansas that was two miles square. It was farmed as one piece of land.
Land management was poor. The original grassy plain had become bare ground. The use of the one-way plow and destruction of the grass cover left the land to the mercy of Kansasâ€™s winds. When the rain fall became short, what little cover left died and the result was the dust bowl.
My father farmed three quarters of a section at the eastern edge of the dust bowl. In the dry years, he did what ever he could do to produce crops and sought ways to keep that sandy soil in place. I donâ€™t think I ever heard him complain. He weathered the time.
There was one year in that decade (1930-1941) that it rained a lot according to records. As I did the research I have wondered what he did and said then. My father was not given to tirades or complaints, so I expect he took what came. And you know? We need to do that!
As I write this column it has rained small amounts for two days. I attended a farming demonstration out at the Scholl farms Thursday of last week. I asked some of the folks why they hadnâ€™t done it sooner and maybe it would have rained more. They just smiled and said, "Isnâ€™t it nice that it rained?"
Agriculture people are like that. The demonstration included a lot of words on managing the land. It struck me as that was the same thing that happened in Kansas after the drought, Shelter belts of trees were planted across the prevailing winds , strip cropping was practiced, the one way plow was parked and no-till came into practice. Some people even put in pasture land.
How do we survive a dry spell? We do what we can do and wait for the cool temperatures and the rains to come.
An interesting note - While we were enduring this present dry spell? - Kansas had above average rainfalls.
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