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Ody's Country Meats

Beat the Rain


Mon, May 22nd, 2000
Posted in

Monday, May 22, 2000

Most of the people I know are glad it is raining today. It has been very warm and dry this spring. Even though the weather has been warm for weeks, the recent overnight cold caused some of the small corn and soybean plants to suffer some frost damage. The blackened leaves and cotyledons need lots of sunshine and heat, but the later planted, "yet-to-sprout" seeds needed this rain more than anything. According to local lore, this early drought and frost should count as two of the three times we will lose this crop this year. Only one more crop scare and we should have it made. Somehow I think we might have to lose this crop more than three times this year.

I drove by a farmer out planting soybeans this morning before the rain started. He stood out a bit because he was pulling a four-row planter with an old Farmall without a cab. The dust billowed behind the tractor and planter as he drove into the south wind. I did not envy him his job when it was time to turn and go north. His task must have seemed endless to him. The field he was planting was huge. I could not see the far end of the field from my vantage point.

The south wind was blowing up a storm. Clouds formed together in a solid gray mass covering the sky from horizon to horizon letting in some light from the east, but becoming grimly darker in the west. Distant lightning poked jaggedly from the gray clouds. I watched the farmer lean into the wind, one hand on the steering wheel, the other on the tractor fender, his eyes bouncing between the planter mark and the sky. Raindrops began to spatter against my truck. The farmer was going to get wet and he knew it. There was nothing he could do but keep going. Now it was just a matter of how wet he would get and how near to the other end of the field he would be before it got too muddy to leave the planter in the ground. He would be going home early, glad that what was planted was getting a drink, but disgusted that he did not get more accomplished. You never know around here. It might be weeks before it dries enough to plant again.

It sometimes amuses me how the television weather reporters tell us how a particular weather pattern or event will be just what the farmers want. It isnít like they really know or even have any idea about what would be best for farmers in general. If it looks dry out their window then the farmers need rain. If it is raining, they say that farmers would like it to dry up. The television weather folks also tend to mention that rain will be good for farmers if it comes early in the work week. When Thursday or Friday come, the focus turns to what will make for a nice weekend for outdoor activities other than farming. On the weekend, it seems that weather that is good for ninety-nine per cent of the population is good for everybody.

When it comes to rain, my friend Paul sums it up by saying, "It always rains around here ten minutes before it is too late." I think heís right. During my farming career and in my observations of agriculture since, I have yet to experience or witness the picture perfect farmer-nature harmony that has become part of the rural legend. It is always a battle and will remain a battle until we can control it. That day seems far off. Until then, we will settle for what we get and take it when we get it.

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