From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Wet and Dry

Flood and drought in the heartland


Mississippi River
near Cairo, Illinois
Bridge over the Ohio
at Cairo, Illinois
The last week of July, I drove to southwestern Missouri to get together with my brother and sister at my sister's house. It was great to see them, and I also enjoyed the road trip.

I crossed the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois. It was obvious that the fields along the approaches to the bridge were planted very late due to the spring floods. On the Missouri side of the Mississippi River, I saw more evidence of flooded fields and late crops. Farms in the area were flooded last spring when the Corps of Engineers broke a levee on the Mississippi to ease the flooding in Cairo.

Most of the fields had young, broad-leafed plants growing in them. First, I thought that the little plants were probably soybeans. Then I wondered if they might be cotton, because southeast Missouri grows quite a bit of cotton. There are short-season cottons that will mature before frost, even when planted late. Whatever the crop, I'm glad some farmers in the river bottoms may get a harvest this year, despite all.
.
Hay trucks on Highway 60
NOAA image
As I drove west on Highway 60, I followed two trucks loaded with big hay bales for miles. They were probably going somewhere in the drought-stricken plains farther west, where people don't have enough grass to feed their livestock. If only their pastures could have some of the water that flooded the fields along the Mississippi this spring!

It was very dry north of Springfield, Missouri, where Charlotte (my sister) lives. My brother Dwight, who has a ranch southwest of Wichita, Kansas, says it is terribly dry there, too. He usually rents a couple of pastures to another fellow every summer, but when last winter and spring were so dry, he decided to sacrifice the extra income and keep all his summer pasture for his own cattle. He hasn't had to buy any hay yet.

Near Charlotte's house on the night that I arrived, a farmer was mowing the dried-up, stunted, mostly-dead corn plants in his field. A couple days later, he baled the stalks for cattle feed. The drought-stressed cornstalks may be high in nitrates, so the farmer will need to have the cornstalks tested so he doesn't accidentally poison his cattle. The cows won't think that cornstalk "hay" is very good, but they'll eat it if they're hungry enough. 


This longhorn cow still has grass in her pasture near Charlotte's house. It has become hay on the stem, but that's much better than no grass at all!

Droughts and floods are problems for all of us, not just for farmers. These disruptions impact grocery store prices, affecting everyone who buys food. Please, pray for rain for those farmers and ranchers who need it -- and sunshine for those who don't need rain!

4 comments:

Collagemama said...

Once again, we are a polarized nation. Red or blue. Flood or drought...

Stitchy Mc Floss said...

Hope you had a great time in your travels and your visits. :)

I just read the other day that Texas and New Mexico had their driest six month period on record (http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=51444)

I will pray for rain....a slow steady rain that will soak into the ground...and buckets of sunshine for those who don't need any more rain. :)

Blessings always

Genevieve said...

Collagemama, with rainfall, temperatures, and most every sort of weather, I think it's a good thing to be "stuck in the middle". The extremes hurt.

Genevieve said...

Stitchy, the effectual fervent prayer of a rightous (wo)man availeth much. :)

We had some rain here this morning. It was especially needed and appreciated for all the fields of soybeans, recently planted around the county. For me, it means I can be lazy about watering the tomato plants for a few days.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.