By Mark Reamer
I lay myself down last night to the steady sound of rainfall upon my windowpane. It wasn’t a harsh storm with winds and hail, lightning flashes arcing across the darkened sky accompanied by the frequent clap of thunder. It was a good solid spring rain. By morning some electricity had moved in. There was a little thunder and lightning. I guess a transformer got struck somewhere or something. The electricity went out for a few hours anyway. It’s still raining. The electricity has moved on, the deluge has lightened in intensity somewhat. It’s still coming down steady though. This is what is known as a soaking rain.
We were dry. There’s no denying that. We needed it. Fortunately, I just finished planting my little bit of crops on Friday (It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon at the time of this writing). I’m glad I got everything in just in time. It’s going to take a little while to completely dry out after this.
This is one of those spring rains that induce relaxation and contentment if you have all your fieldwork done. It will also undoubtedly invoke the exact opposite emotions in those who haven’t finished their spring projects yet. If you’re one of those who has several acres, or even hundreds of acres, yet to plant you’re feeling anxious and there’s no denying it.
This rain will keep anyone around here out of the fields for several days. There’s no denying that. The question is, will everything dry out before the next soaking rain sets in. Every farmer with planting yet to do will be keeping a close eye on their fields. There’s often that one low spot where the soil is a little heavier than the rest of the field. It yields good, seldom floods out, but it’s not going to be ready to plant at the same time as the rest of the field. It’ll get there in a day or two, but will we have that day or two to wait?
I said in commencement that this is a typical soaking, Spring rain. It’s also the first of the season that can really be called so. Once the Spring rains start it’s often a regular feature in the weather pattern for the next 4 to 6 weeks. This is Kansas. It’s not like we have a monsoon season. We don’t get a daily deluge where the creeks and rivers swell to overflowing, washing out the roads and inundating the countryside. Once it starts though it will sometimes keep raining off and on until around the third week of June. (I have a friend who was a missionary in Papua New Guinia and got trapped in a mountain village when monsoon season hit early. His planned two-week visit turned into 6 months as all the roads and valleys out had been flooded and would remain so until the monsoon season had passed.)
If we get one of those years, it’s going to be difficult to find a window where the fields are dry enough for a long enough period to get them worked. There are few things more frustrating than being down to having nothing, but a 20-acre field left to plant and getting caught in the cycle of the spring rains. It needs to be planted now. If things don’t go right however it could be weeks before it is. That’s a hit in the pocket that few are content to take.
It’s made all the worse by the fact that the neighbor on the next section over, or who plants 40 fewer acres, has finished his fieldwork before the rains started. He is content, his heart beats lightly within his breast, and all is well with the world.
They who are unfinished anxiously check the forecast. The tractor is fueled and ready. The planter as well. When will it be dry enough to get it done is the constant question? People get edgy and anxious. From morning light till the fall of night the conditions are closely watched. It’s a race between the calendar, the skies, and the farmer. He’s competing against both. One eye on the calendar; the other on the sky. He’s trying to beat them both. And may GOD bless him.