The woes of a dry summer

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The weather has been very, very depressing this summer. It’s been so hot and dry that our typically beautiful Ozarks landscape is somewhat desolate. The only green left around our place are the weeds growing around the shop step; everything else is a crispy brown. I’m sure everyone else’s places are about the same. 

Then there’s the heat, that miserable heat. As long as there’s some air moving, I can usually get a long OK in the heat, but it’s been like a confection oven this summer. I told Bill one recent evening that you know it’s hot when the Jersey is wading into the pond to cool off. 

Then there are the ants that have invaded my kitchen. When it gets hot and dry, those little pests start searching for water and seem to find their way to my house.  I’ve thrown anything and everything at them this year, but I think they are only multiplying. My “natural” attempts to rid the pesky creatures from my kitchen have failed, and I have been forced to take a chemical approach. I don’t like doing that in the kitchen, but Bill has learned in recent weeks that there will be very little cooking done during this time and to put nothing on the counters. I might have a handle on them now, but I will not claim victory just yet because I have thought that before.

Bill and I made a couple of evening trips last week, each taking us about an hour and a half away from home. As we drove, the conversation was mainly about the weather and speculation if there had maybe been a little more rain there than at the house. There were no lush, green fields; they were all brown. Corn and bean fields looked rough, too. 

Thankfully we’ve had some cooler days and rain in some areas, but it has come too late for many folks, and the hot weather has returned. Around our place, we haven’t had enough rain to settle the dust since June. We did get a downpour over the weekend, but it was short-lived. 

The water situation for some livestock owners is becoming dire. The recent Drought Monitor index said conditions are just about right for wells to start going dry. Water sources like ponds and creeks are drying up. My dad said he might have to start hauling water to his cows on one farm that has always had a spring creek that provided enough water. It’s down to what he described as a “few mud holes.” One of our neighbors said they have only one pond that has water, and it is getting dry. 

Hay production this year is iffy. Some say they are just a little lighter than last year, other say their crop is much less. Either way, it’s not looking good when you are already starting to feed your winter supply. Add a short crop to sky-high production costs, and what hay there is out there is going to be very expensive.

Low livestock prices are always a concern, but we are sure to see a roller-coaster in the coming weeks. 

The Ozarks aren’t the only part of the nation experiencing dry conditions and extreme temperatures. According to the National Weather Service, 43 percent of the U.S. and 51 percent of the lower 48 states are in a drought. So far, 229 million acres of crops in the U.S. are experiencing dry conditions. 

Many producers are worried about what will happen next and how they will make it through. Farming is hard work, but when you have years like this, it makes things a little trickier.

As the late Dusty Richards said for many years in the pages of OFN, all we need’s more rain.

Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at [email protected]

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