Editorial: May-June 2011
Blame it on the rain
As I write this editorial (on May 5, 2011), the sun is shining outside
my window. A slight breeze from the northwest is rustling the maple
leaves bursting on the tree shading the front lawn. And my two horses
are slugging through hock-deep mud, muck and mire in their pasture.
As I write this editorial (on May 5, 2011), the sun is shining outside my window. A slight breeze from the northwest is rustling the maple leaves bursting on the tree shading the front lawn. And my two horses are slugging through hock-deep mud, muck and mire in their pasture.
My farmyard is a mucky, muddy, soggy mess and I know it won’t be improving anytime soon. According to my local weather forecast, I can expect rain tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and the – well, you get the picture. All of this extra moisture comes after almost three weeks of continual rain with a nasty windstorm thrown in for extra drama. Sections of my hay field are under water, my neighbor’s fall wheat is looking more than a bit yellowed, not one seed of corn or soybeans has been planted in the area and it’s basically impossible to mow the lawn, which is getting to first cut hay stage.
I know I’m not alone in my weather conundrum. According to a local crop advisor in my area, this is the worst year for working and planting farm fields he’s seen in 27 years.
I also recently received a nice e-mail from a reader and farmer in northern Iowa who was hopeful for some warm weather to dry up the fields in his neck of the woods.
“Our temperatures in this area have been 10 to 15 degrees below normal and it has been very wet,” he wrote. “This makes it very difficult to apply manure to the fields.”
He’s not alone. Tractors are sitting idle on many New York state farms where some are forecasting yield losses in the range of millions of dollars. Vermont dairy farmers are unable to apply manure and prepare their fields for planting. And in Wisconsin, manure pits are beginning to creep to the brim as wet fields prevent proper application.
Meanwhile, farmers in southwestern Kansas are experiencing severe drought conditions that have led to wildfires destroying 9,600 acres in two counties. Western Texas, the Oklahoma Panhandle and southeastern New Mexico are also experiencing severe drought conditions, having received only 10 percent of normal precipitation over the past six months.
Well, I know exactly where those states’ normal precipitation has gone – it’s fallen on my small, 10-acre farm. And they’re free to come and pick it up anytime they’d like. Just bring a big sponge and a very large water tanker. We could also probably jury-rig our basement sump pump, which hasn’t stopped working in the past three weeks (except when the electricity went off in the big windstorm and when it had to be replaced because the motor burned out), to pump directly into water jugs.
In all seriousness, this monsoon needs to end soon before I’m picking mushrooms off my horses’ backs and planting rice in my hay field.