Saturday, February 28, 2009

She's Mighty Dry, Son

I've said before how I can hear what my Dad would say were he here - and that is just what his voice in my head is telling me now. It seems like any time we head north, east or west, we run into snow. Here? Not so much. From the National Weather Service:

The dry winter continued for Dodge City in January 2009. Only 0.02 inches of precipitation was recorded during the month, which was 0.60 inches below normal. The total precipitation from November 2008 through January 2009 was 0.36 inches. This was the 8th driest November through January period on record. Records date back to 1874. The driest on record was November 1875 to January 1876 with 0.10 inches. The total snowfall for January 2009 was 2.0 inches. The total for the 2008 -2009 season through the end of January was only 3.2 inches, which was 7.9 inches below normal. Last year at this same time Dodge City had 19.7 inches of snow. Most of the snow this past January fell on the 26th and 27th with 1.6 inches recorded.

The above picture (from the USDA) is about how our wheat "out here" looks - some better and some far worse. It is "greening up" on subsoil moisture - which won't last long. It's not just the wheat crop that is in danger - it is a common practice to graze cattle on wheat ground. If we don't get moisture soon, the cattle will have to be moved off the wheat if there is even a chance for it to grow into a crop later. If not, the destruction of the crop is assured - the cattle will eat until the wheat is gone and there will be no ground cover to protect the ground from the winds in March and April. So, the farmers who are also stockmen are getting a double whammy at the moment. Of course, the grass pastures will be overstressed since they aren't getting any moisture, either. Hay prices might get kinda pricey around here if things don't change soon.

But, if anyone ought to be used to drought conditions, it oughta be us. Particularly since this area is considered semi-arid desert. If you look at the header picture for the blog, you'll see that The Poor Farm is Large Round Bale Storage. We can't do much for the wheat, but the cattle will have something to eat. And I say we in the societal sense - I sure as hell wasn't out there baling feed and straw, hauling bales and actually feeding them. My neighbors cover that angle. At least they are big bales - small bales means lots of human labor. Large bales require that hydralics be your friend - such as bale forks mounted on tractors and flatbed pickups. I like hydralics, but I'd sure take some rain or snow, too.


drjim said...

I feel for you. I grew up in Northern Illinois, so I'm a little in tune with how the weather affects our farmers. Not having a decent snow cover is not good for the crops. Even though I was a 'city kid', I went to grade school, high school, and junior college with lots of 'farm kids', and still keep in touch with some of them.

Earl said...

Will have to add rain (you could have some of ours but the mountains get in the way) to my list of requests for y'all - but not too much, and not too late, take care.

Anonymous said...

Despite a little snow (excluding tonight's deluge), it has been really dry here, too.

I hope you all get some nice soaking rain soon. Like Earl said: not too much, but not too little. :)

Frank W. James said...

Long range forecasts for this part of the CornBelt don't look any better for June, July and August. Everything I've read says we will be down anywhere from an 1" to a 1.5". the only good news is they are also saying below normal temperatures, so if accurate that means we might get through with a slightly below normal average on crop yields.

Hope you get some rains and soon.

All The Best,
Frank W. James