Like many producers across the country, we’ve been charred by drought in Colorado this summer. From Aug. 1, 2011, to Sept. 1, 2012, we’d received slightly less than 8 in. of total precipitation; and most of that came in fall 2011.
Our small town loves its high school football, and you know the level of concern about drought is high when it tops football as a topic of discussion. Our locale had received less than 2 in. of measurable precipitation since May 1, and while everyone knew it had to rain eventually, many of us were beginning to wonder if we would be around to see it!
Wednesday it happened! The skies were dark most of the day and they finally gave up 0.24 in. of rain.
The mood was ecstatic. I’m sure people in Seattle get a similar feeling when the sun breaks out to shine for an extended period of time, but it was great to watch the improvement in people’s attitudes when the temperature dropped and the clouds began to darken. There were a few days this summer when thunderclouds had built up, only to tease us before moving on. There were precious few days where rain was even a possibility.
I could sense the change Wednesday morning. The feel of rain was in the air, and people were smiling and more jovial at the local feed store. It started to rain as I dropped a load of calves at the sale barn. People were smiling, jokes were being thrown about, and the November elections and football bubbled back into the conversation.
Sure, 0.24 in. of precipitation is pretty limited. It isn’t enough to green the grass or set it to growing. Nor will it change the dynamics for producers, though it did at least settle the dust for a short time, which is a great thing for all these early-weaned calves. But the rain simply validated that rain is possible, and that it will happen again.
In the western U.S., rain is always a good thing, but especially in the midst of a drought. Cattlemen in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma called and texted me throughout the day as they watched the radar; they wanted to confirm that it was actually raining. They were hoping the weatherman was right and the moisture moving out of our area would be moving into theirs.
Somehow, life just seems a little better when you have a bit of mud on your boots. I can’t explain it, but the cows looked fatter and happier with rain on their backs as well.