Sanders: The miracle of rain
May 18, 2018
We have had a little rain this week, enough to wake things up and create mud in the yard. Rainwater is the best source for vegetation as it is 100 percent soft water. That is all it is. Falling from the sky, it has no minerals, salts or anything else. Weather officials say we live in an arid region, which means we receive an average annual moisture amount of 13 inches total. That includes snow and anything else. That makes any rain a miracle to me.
I almost feel sorry for people who live where it rains a lot. Do they think of the rains as a blessing as those of us who live in arid climes do? Here in southwestern South Dakota if it rains on the day of a picnic, we sit in the rain and don't complain. When I was in college in Iowa, where it rained frequently, I bought an umbrella. Later I brought it home and tried to explain to my younger sister and brother what rain was. It wasn't quite that bad, but for eight years, during the last drought here, it was nearly that extreme. You know how rain emits an aroma, one of life and cleansing, even if it falls miles away. That is a heartbreaker during a drought when you can smell it, but it doesn't fall on your fields and pastures. We await rain, in good doses. We are so thankful for it and we don't take it for granted.
Rain is welcome and good. When everything is already soggy or when the hay has been cut and is waiting to be stacked or baled it can present challenges. However, few farmers would ever say, "I wish it would stop raining." It seems that statement could almost be asking for trouble. It might not rain again for months or sometimes years. Is there another year-round profession that is more weather dependent than farmers?
Science has attempted to create rain. I remember in the 1960s when conditions were right clouds were seeded with silver iodide aerosols in attempts to induce rain. Various opinions were expressed on the success because hailstorms seemed to occur soon after seeding. But did the seeding cause the hail or in fact, did the seeding assist in breaking up larger hail into smaller particles?
“Is there another year-round profession that is more weather dependent than farmers?”
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Depending on soil type, even a couple of tenths of rain can make a road impassable, if it's gumbo/clay; that heavy ground holds the moisture for days. Sandy soil changes so quickly that a good, solid rain might delay tilling only for a few hours. For cattlemen a rain can change plans for branding day. Particularly in the agriculture sector the weather forecast is the last thing checked at night and the first in the morning.
A final thought: envision the restful sleep you can have when raindrops are spattering on your windows. It is a natural sleep aide, for sure.