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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Aug 31, 2012

I have to tell you something sad. My wife and I were counting the rain storms of this crop year using our fingers to number them.

It was like recalling recent visits by good friends or our grandchildren. We would say things like, “That happened on that weekend when … ” or “You remember, that was when “

Here is something even sadder. We only needed the fingers from one hand to count this crop year’s rain storms. Most months only had one rain storm that amounted to anything.

When we finished totaling the rainfall, which we did in our heads, we came up with a total rainfall for our crops since planting time to now of 7 inches.

Seven inches represents about one-third to maybe as little as one-fourth of a normal year for rainfall around here.

Our recent trip to southwest Colorado took us through places that were even drier than we were.

What I saw of crops in northern Missouri, I do not want to ever see again anywhere.

In western Kansas, I saw the manmade watering holes where a bulldozer had pushed up a wall of dirt between two hillsides to hold water that were so dry a person could walk across the flat bottom created by the bulldozer without getting any mud on his shoes at all.

In western Nebraska, we ate at the small town of Gering and sat next to a table of a local farmer who farms every year with a dry year.

He and I were able to commiserate about this year. Irrigation is a way of life for his farm so a drought does not have as serious consequences, but is still a problem.

We drove home across South Dakota and into west central Minnesota to visit my wife’s family, arriving home as the sun was setting on a Saturday night.

Once we were home, I mowed my lawn for the second time this summer. The 2.5 inches of rain we received while we were gone made a difference.

Sitting on the lawn mower, watching the green blades of grass shoot out the discharge chute, I realized that I did not have as much to complain about as I thought I did.

When I look across a field around home, I see more green than brown. While we are dry, we will still have something to harvest.

My bins won’t be full like other years, but they will have something to hold.

I have confirmed my respect for people who look at a situation and make the best of it, even when times are tough.

The farmer in western Nebraska who lives with dry conditions every year told me he has a problem with black nightshade staining his beans and affecting their value when he sells them.

That seemed to be a bigger problem for him than dry weather.

After seeing crops that were destroyed from dry conditions and talking to people such as those in Greensburg, Kan., where 90 percent of the town was destroyed by a tornado five years ago, nobody was ready to say it was hopeless and give up. They cleaned things up and rebuilt.

Yes, this is a tough year and it probably won’t be the last tough year.

It is a year with a sad story and all of us wait for a happy ending. It is the hope and the goal of a happy ending that gives us the reason to keep going.

Maybe it takes a sad story to make a happy ending.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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