Welcome rain

Thursday, April 27, 2006

As I sit here watching lightning streak across the western sky and listening to the boom of thunder, I know there are some very happy farmers enjoying the spring thunderstorm all across Barry County. The persistent patter of raindrops hitting the roof are a comforting sound to many, especially since the rain has been falling steadily since mid-afternoon.

Growing up in the city, I was never one to pay much attention to rain. In fact, weather wasn't something I thought much about at all, except when a lightning storm kept me from going to the city pool or cancelled a high school ball game I was planning to attend. When I moved to Cassville, I quickly discovered that attention to weather was one thing that separates city folks from country folks. Around here, weather is a big deal and a major topic of conversation.

I used to marvel at how long people could talk to one another about the weather. What I once thought of as casual, small talk is in fact the subject and central topic of many a conversation among county farmers. Comparing rainfall amounts could be considered a recreational sport if the reality of recent drought conditions didn't make it so serious.

Rain typically dampens people's spirits, but not in Barry County and not when this area has been threatened by severe drought conditions. I saw people staring out the window at the falling rain and standing in the open doorways of their businesses and homes and actually smiling as puddles began to form on the sidewalks and run-off poured down the sides of city streets.

I even found myself wondering if I would arrive home and see water in our ponds, which have been dry for several weeks now. I got the answer to my question when I drove up to the house and saw Ryan and his friends covered in mud after driving through the now muddy bottom of our ponds on the ATV.

Water is a resource that is easily taken for granted. It's easy to take long showers and leave the sprinkler on in the yard when our water supply seems endless. But talk to any farmer and you'll soon realize that water is a valuable commodity that must be protected. Over the past few months, farmers have watched their ponds go dry and have been forced to haul in water or drill new wells. Ranchers have been selling more cattle at market, because water sources are dwindling and pastures are not producing the lush green grass typical of spring.

Monday's rain was a welcome gift from God and hopefully marks the beginning of more rainfall for the Barry County area and southwest Missouri as a whole. According to experts, it would need to rain an inch every other day for two weeks to get this area out of its drought. Right now, we're just happy that it rained for more than just a few minutes and there's the possibility of a little more rain in the forecast.