Peggy Sanders: Confluence Chronicles 9-17-12 | TheFencePost.com
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Peggy Sanders: Confluence Chronicles 9-17-12

The Oral Volunteer Fire Department fought this grass fire to a standstill with several of the department’s five trucks. Burning trash in an open barrel was the cause of this grass fire. Fortunately the wind was blowing the flames away from the building.

In the movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray, every morning his alarm comes on with the news of the morning, and every day is February 2. That is the day we recognize as “Groundhog Day.” Although in farming and ranching there is generally diversity in the work to be accomplished or at the least dealing with the “wrecks” of the day keeps life interesting.

This summer the mornings have consisted of deciding if the hay is too wet, too dry or just right to bale. Too wet can eventually cause moldy hay which is not good for livestock and it can create enough heat to spontaneously combust at a future date. Local fire departments can attest to this happening while truckloads of hay are being transported. That is quite a spectacle to see going down the road and has got to be unnerving for the driver.

Weather is the deciding factor for most of our plans, or lack thereof. The end of day activities are the result of a chain reaction that begins with the weather forecast and this summer has ended up with my husband, older son and other neighbor men being in the hot seat, figuratively and literally, watching for lightning caused grass fires in the late afternoon, evening and night. We eat supper early, just in case. The boots stay on, just in case. Our son goes out to sit on a pasture hill, just in case. When the call comes to bring the fire truck that is staged at our place, just in case, my husband takes off, hoping for a rain shower. So far this scenario has played out multiple times and the tiniest showers have come along to save the day — and the pastures. Last week was the first time our crew has been out for an extended period of time and that was because they were already mounted in trucks when a call came in for mutual aid to another close fire district. Many departments came and got the various fires extinguished. Cooperation gets a lot more done.

This is the same routine that is being followed by thousands of our fellow agricultural producers across the drought-riddled country. I know there are hundreds of burned pastures, hay is already a scarce commodity and it is a sad deal all around. But what do we always say? It will be better next year.

For those who have hay there is the worry about the possibility of lightning striking your haystacks, which hopefully you have spread out away from each other so if one gets struck it won’t get them all. When you are out and about ponder Mark Twain’s words, “Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work.”

Peggy writes from southwest South Dakota where fires are raging some 50 miles in the distance. Her internet latchstring is out via Peggy@PeggySanders.com. ❖


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