Looking for some sunshineTOWNER, N.D. — As they say, timing has a lot to do with the success of a rain dance. Around here, you so much as tap your toe to the beat of the music and it will rain. And, if you don’t dance, it’ll still rain.
By: Ryan Taylor, Special to Agweek
TOWNER, N.D. — As they say, timing has a lot to do with the success of a rain dance. Around here, you so much as tap your toe to the beat of the music and it will rain. And, if you don’t dance, it’ll still rain.
In Texas, they can’t even find a cloud to wring a raindrop from. Here we’re looking for the sun to try and dry off from the rain last fall, the snow last winter and the big spring rains that have kept coming into August.
Texas is as dry as it’s been since records have been kept. Meanwhile, we have lakes and rivers and rainfall breaking all the old records in North Dakota. I wish it was a little easier for us to share our excess.
Our ranch is about as wet as it’s ever been. I only have 41 years to work with and don’t remember too much from the first few years, but I’m sure if my dad still were here he’d agree.
Our water wells are starting to flow artesian style if their cap is so much as a foot or two below the surface, and the ponds that used to dry up in summer have taken on a new life in every pasture and hayfield.
Woe is us
It’s hard to complain about rain on the prairie, but here it goes.
We used to just get puddles in the yard in spring, now they’re here most all the time and recharge with every shower. Puddles are popular with our splashing kids, the tadpoles and egg-laying mosquitoes.
Good roads are hard to find in some areas. Often times, we can’t even find a bad road to get us from one point to another with a relatively straight line.
Section lines and prairie trails that lead us to fields and pastures used to be pretty dry and passable. Now, there’s no chance of getting through the mud and water with a four wheel drive pickup, and sometimes they’re too deep for the not-quite-all terrain vehicles. You really can mess it up after a few trips with a four wheel drive tractor, and then we’re left with four footed horse travel.
We have to walk some of these puddles to fix up the fence because the cows still will find where it’s down even if they have to walk through mud up to their bellies to get to the gap. It’s amazing, the grass is green on all sides of every fence this year, but the cows still like the other side better.
Cows are the only way to harvest the grass, though, since 80 percent of our hay ground is either sitting in water or won’t support the machinery it takes to turn it into hay bales for winter. Unfortunately, if the moisture continues this winter, the snow will be about five feet too deep for winter grazing.
Enough of the grumbling. I bet every Texas farmer or rancher would trade me for the problems I have. I’ve never seen so much grass in our pastures, and every time I drive by a patch of five foot tall big blue stem grass it makes my prairie heart sing.
I’ve never seen the country this green in August and I’m still holding out hope that we can make some hay this fall if it dries up a little.
If my windmills don’t pump or the power goes out for the electric water pumps, I don’t have to worry about the cows going thirsty. They can just walk to the nearest puddle and take a pretty clean drink.
It’s hard to remember sometimes, but I’d still rather be waiting for a dry spell than waiting for a rain.