It always rains

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On the rocky hillsides where I attempt to farm, the old saying is that we are always only two weeks away from a drought. Well, those two weeks came and went a couple of months ago, so it was no surprise when the U.S. drought monitor placed my county in the “extreme drought” category this past week.

The pastures are brown, ponds are going dry, leaves are falling from trees, and people who depend on the land for a living are in moods that are bordering on clinical depression. Four months ago, I was repairing fences that had been destroyed by a flooding creek that flows beside my south farm. Now, that same creek is barely trickling, and even an old, fat man can jump across wherever I want. 

Such has always been the life of a farmer — too wet, too dry, too hot, too cold, too cheap and too expensive. Extremes in weather and markets are part of life, and we either learn to adapt and move on, or find a different way to make a living. But drought, such as we are experiencing presently, has allowed me to make a couple of observations …

As my wife and I were sitting on the back porch watching the cows and calves as they came by the yard fence, she commented that hardly any flies were on their backs or faces. I observed that as well and assumed they had perished because of either dehydration or heat stroke.

We also have a new puppy that is about 4 months old. This morning, as we got our first meager sprinkle in a long, long time, the puppy seemed in a trance as he sat on the porch and watched the raindrops falling to the ground. At first, I was worried that maybe he was having a seizure or some other medical disorder until I realized that this was just the first time he’d ever experienced the phenomenon of rain.

A wise old farmer once told me I could take a soil test and then apply all the nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous it called for at a small fortune (a large fortune this year) and add enough ag lime to correct the pH, and proceed to apply all the chemical weed control, insecticides and fungicides available. Still, all these prescribed benefits won’t amount to a tinker’s damn if I don’t get enough rain.

A group of the regulars were gathered at the local feed/general store last week, grumbling about the severe drought situation. As I arrived and joined the group, and without giving any consideration to how stupid I sounded, I rhetorically asked, “Do you think it’ll ever rain again?”

One of the older gentlemen in the small group, who had obviously been taking in all of the whining, looked out over the top of his glasses and said, “It always has.”

Jerry Crownover farms in Lawrence County. He is a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University, and is an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’

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