We’re just watching the sky

On the Edge of Common Sense
By Baxter Black, DVM

There is at least one thing that separates agricultural people from their office-working brothers … the weather.

How often have you seen the local anchorman turn to the local weather girl and say, “Gosh, Marsha, that’s really good news! I’m sure getting tired of this rain!”

What’s he getting tired of? Having a soggy newspaper on the porch? Having to wear his galoshes from the office to the health club? Postponing the wearing of his new all season Nikes?

He’s probably not getting any more tired of it than the feedlot cowboy slogging through the pens in hock deep mud. Or the Iowa range-hog man sliding his feed wagon along the bank of the north pasture.

But somewhere, out beyond the cattle guard, a farmer is standing at the edge of a quarter section of winter wheat, watching it rain and smiling.

A skiff of snow, a 2-inch rain, five days of hot and dry, a 4-foot drift and minus-25 wind chill factor are like person-to-person calls to someone whose living depends on the weather.

When the big city weatherman’s map has a yellow sun with a smiley face that covers the Louisiana Purchase, you realize how far from nature some parts of our civilization have been removed!

Great skiing weather can often be translated to baby calves on the kitchen floor, frozen water lines and chopping ice. Gentle April showers can keep tractors out of the field, chronics in the sick pen and bankers in a frenzy!

Farmers and ranchers are students of the sky. They spend a lifetime lookin’ for a blue horizon or black clouds. It’s bringing ’em luck; sometimes good, sometimes bad.

They watch the local weather like brokers watch the ticker tape. They meet at the town cafe with neighbors to see who caught a little of the squall that blew through. They watch pasture and planted fields wash away or shrivel and die. They see fertilized, prepared soil crack and blow away or turn to gumbo.

All the time watchin’ the sky.

But, sometimes they win. The snow melts off, the fields turn green, the afternoon storms soak the ground, and the sun breaks through. They watch it come. They smell the weather changin’.

They aren’t looking at it through a window. They are truly a part of their environment. Maybe that’s why they don’t take it for granted