Beggars can’t be choosers. That’s the old adage. But when it comes to moisture, farmers are usually pretty choosy about the timing, the form and how much wind we receive with the moisture. After recent snow and ice storms have rumbled through the area, I can see now that farmers in my neck of the woods are not complaining.
I was visiting on the phone with a farmer one evening a few weeks ago when a snowstorm was raging outside. I asked him how much snow he thought he had received at his place. His answer stunned me, coming from someone who has livestock. “We have a foot now, but we could sure use more,” he said. Wow! I’m not sure those words have ever come out of the mouth of a farmer or rancher in the same sentence. The words “snow” and “more” generally do not mix in our part of the world.
These words reminded me how deeply felt the drought of 2012 was across the state, and how intense the concern is about the upcoming growing season. When farmers pray for snow and ice to alleviate dry conditions, you know that it must be about as dry as it can get.
My family too, felt the difficult sting of drought, as we were forced to sell off most of our cow/calf herd in the heat of the summer, because there were no forages available to feed the herd. (You can revisit my personal drought report, if you wish to jog your memory.)
We are probably fortunate to have experienced an open winter until now, because cattle have been able to glean cornstalks all winter long, and hay piles haven’t shrunk nearly as fast as they might have. Although it is calving time, it seems most producers are now looking to spring, and hoping for precipitation in any form the good Lord will give it to us.
Fortunately, over the past few weeks, strong moisture fronts have rumbled through the area, dumping snow and moisture on ground that has seen little of it for many months. We pray that these patterns will continue on to spring, and that our temperatures will be a bit more temperate and closer to “normal” than last spring. At least recent snowstorms have proven that Mother Nature hasn’t forgotten how to give us winter, and the usual snow and ice storms that have ushered in most “normal” springs in Nebraska. After last summer, in the minds of most producers, anything closer to normal would be good.
Be sure to watch Nebraska Farmer online and read our March print issue of Nebraska Farmer for news, information and tips on meeting the challenges of drought. Your best online resource for drought information is the Farm Progress drought site at Dateline Drought. And watch this blog the last Friday of every month for my new “special report” featuring the families growing our food.