A friend wrote today of life last week in her town. Understand that all true wealth comes from the soil and we in Agriculture are suffering to some degree by the lack of moisture.
No rain this month…or the month before…….our last measurable precipitation (nearly an inch on the home place…half that on fields further away) fell June 6.
The North Platte River Valley has moved from extreme to exceptional drought…a meteorological designation which, in just two words, tells an unforgiving story of pasture degradation, dying sagebrush, and empty reservoirs.
Disguised by irrigation our area doesn’t look much different than it has during previous dry spells, but once the irrigation canals and wells are shut down the horror that comes from a rainless spring and summer will unmask… and even the most distracted and preoccupied observer will be able to grasp its true nature.
As drought intensifies so does the size, scope, and number of wildfires. Thursday, about noon, a gigantic cloud of brown smoke crawled over the northern horizon, rolling over Morrill like a 1930’s black blizzard, staining the daylight a sickly nicotine yellow. Fine ash had just begun to fall when a local fire volunteer, who had stopped in at the tire shop, said, “I fought that fire all day yesterday until early this morning. I came home to eat and clean up before they call me out again.”
A few moments later a longtime friend confided that his father had the ranch pickups and trucks loaded with personal belongings…ready for the evacuation order that was sure to come. “He sold his calves last week.” Neal said. “ It’s a good thing. After this the ranch will be nothing but charcoal and dirt.”
Years from now the 2012 drought will be a single notation in Mother Earth’s logbook, its complexities and challenges relegated to nostalgic history, the demands it made on daily life softened by emotional distance. But right now, at this very moment, it’s an extraordinarily powerful force of Nature which can’t be , for any length of time, successfully mitigated, managed, or fixed…despite journalistic stories to the contrary.
About all a person can do, other than pray, is prepare for it, live through it, and put it behind you when the rains return.
Until then the land aches for water……