Rain arrives, but questions remain


Yea! It rained! Finally! Time to celebrate with singing and dancing in the rain!

Yes, it does rain on occasion. We were long overdue.

However, as “they” say, the rain falls on the just and the unjust-—and judging by the rainfall patterns of the past two weeks—it appears the “just” lives where I do not.

Never mind the dubious fact that taking such religious statements out of context has absolutely no bearing on the outcome.

Anyway, let’s say my “just” neighbors to the south and west of Hillsboro seem to get the lion’s share of the moisture. When they get 2.5 inches, we get a half inch. When they get 4 inches, we still get a half inch, or less.

Perhaps they need the rain more than I. With land in the area selling for lofty sums and new construction going up, they need all the help they can get.

Depending on one’s level of superstition of such things—somebody’s unjust behavior out there or someone’s justification through requisite penance—the last major rain event may have broken the spell a bit. We finally got over an inch, plus a couple light sprinkles to boot.

Now that the moisture is finding its way down to the ground, other challenges to raising crops raise their ugly heads. On a recent walk through a field of corn, I observed an occasional ear exhibiting an unusual form. It was shaped like a crescent moon. Upon further investigation, I noticed kernels on one side of the ear were well formed, while kernels on the other side were absent.

The experts tell me it’s the work of stink bugs eating the silks from one side of the ear. Kernel growth on one side, plus lack of growth on the other side, results in a contorted looking ear.

The jury is still out on that explanation, however. Rumor has it that this is a new variety of highly nutritious corn that only needs half the kernels to feed an animal to a mature weight. They call it “half moon” corn.

Fortunately, only a small percentage of ears exhibit this symptom. Besides, selling half moon corn means selling half the corn crop as well.

That said, misery loves company in more ways than we can count. Another farmer shows up at the Double Circle Day Care meeting, bringing an ear that has fewer than a dozen or so kernels on it. Excessive heat at pollination, preventing the pollen from fertilizing the silk properly, was one suggested reason.

Who knows what the real reason is? Is it the new, improved version of “dehydrated” corn I harvested during last year’s drought? Perhaps.

My friends and readers that come from a non-farm background may not fully understand the nature of this topic, though when we meet, the topic of agriculture generally finds its way into our discourse.

Rarely, if ever, do we discuss superstition as it relates to agriculture and the growing of crops and livestock.

That said, if the topic ever comes up, I can assure them that whenever they come upon a farmer driving down a country road, and observe him or her engaged in an animated conversation with the driver, waving arms like a mad man, that they know what they’re doing and are not acting strange, per se.

For all they know, the farmer is driving back to the farm headquarters, trying to create air turbulence to cool down from the intense humidity and heat.

In actuality, it’s more like the farmer is describing his latest escapade and trying to make sense out of the absurdity of it all.

Knowing how to interpret such animated descriptions, here’s the real scoop: After driving 20 miles to the field and unfolding the planter to begin field operations, the new tire that was put on that morning hit a deer’s antler and was ruined.

Plus, the truck they positioned in the field earlier in the day would not start and the jack handle was conspicuously absent from its proper place, as was the jack and tire wrenches.

Then, the words “just” and “unjust” pop up in the conversation, almost as if on cue.

By the way, the driver and the vehicle—not to mention a jack, jack handle and tire wrenches—are the neighbors who happened by while the farmer was trying to get a signal from a cell tower out in “no man’s land” in an effort to call in support, who happened to be shopping in a distant city at the time.

This “experience” is fictional, though at some time or another, it’s a safe bet that nearly all farmers have lived through an event similar to this account.

How do I know this? Let me tell you the latest story I heard at the last roundup the next time we meet on the road.


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