Fonticulus Fides

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Farm Update
- - or - -
How to Make a 100-acre Parking Lot Without Really Trying

We’re about 4 inches ahead in annual average rainfall around here, which on the surface sounds like a good thing. Unfortunately, the rain has not always come in a useable fashion, which has ominous implications for my father-in-law’s soybean fields.

His corn was planted first (before his accident, which led to the four broken ribs and punctured lungs), and it came up and established enough of a root system before all the unpleasant weather. So it’s looking pretty good. I think he’s had some hail damage, but not a lot. If we get decent and steady amounts of moisture through July, he should have a good corn crop this year. If we go back to a drought pattern through July, though, even if each stalk sets an ear, the kernals will be stunted, which will make for a smaller yield.

Soybeans were supposed to go in back in early May, but my father-in-law’s broken ribs delayed things. His seed dealer came over and did the planting eventually, but it takes almost two weeks for spouts to stick up through the soil. Unfortunately, the weather got in the way.

Shortly after planting, we got a heavy rain (the one with all the tornados) followed by hot, dry wind. That basically crusted over the bean fields and the soft, tender shoots could not force their way through the surface. It’s almost like cement, it’s so hard – hence the "parking lot" bit.

It’s quite maddening. You can go out into the field and poke around with a pocket knife and find a bean shoot trying it’s best to straighten up through the soil. But it would be impossible to do that for every single plant in 100 acres.

Over the weekend, we got more heavy rains, and my father-in-law was hoping it would help break the soil so the beans could actually come up. I don’t know how many made it before we got more hot dry winds, which started to produce the hard crust again. We got more rain overnight, though, so maybe that helped.

If the beans can get established, they need some rain through July and August in order to set pods. The family farm, which is about an hour away from here, is in the "abnormally dry" section of the state, so we’re hoping he can get enough rain to get by this year and make a decent harvest. Towards the center part of the state, they are in first stage drought or worse, and out west, they are in an extreme drought. Lots of cattle ranches out there besides the grain farms, so it is a major concern. Throughout the Diocese, we are offering daily prayers for enough moisture, and that it arrives safely and soon.

Surviving the Twister

Out in Hallam, that village that was pretty much completely demolished by a May 22 tornado, clean-up is slow and steady. It’s hot, and there is no shade because almost of the trees have been stripped of their limbs and leaves. But lots of volunteers have been showing up to help.

Bulldozers have already taken out most of the irreparable buildings. There is still no water or sewer service and only scant electrical service, but they are working to get that corrected. Right now, even the people who own the three homes that are inhabitable can’t live in them because of the lack of water and sewer service. Folks are trying to maintain a sense of humor through it all. That’s Nebraska resiliancy for you.

Estimates are that 75-80% of the rest of the residents will rebuild, and pretty much all of the businesses. The bank is operating out of a trailer leant to them by some banking association. The owners of the pub, service station and other businesses are all planning to rebuild. The Hallam United Methodist Church members were at the site this week, salvaging and sorting brick out of the ruins for the new building. The USPS is also going to rebuild the post office. So it looks like the town will survive after all. No word yet on whether the destroyed school in nearby Firth would be rebuilt in time for classes to start next September.



Post a Comment

<< Home