Hay’s on the ground – so it looks like rain

“Eighty-two degrees with a 12 percent chance of rain and 4 mph wind” read the weather forecast. “Better count on a cold, rainy, windy weekend,” I told my husband.

He double-checked the statistics. “It looks like it’ll be nice.”

“Well, I say it’s going to rain—might even have a thunderstorm.”

“Look.” He held out his phone so I could see the forecast myself. 

He was right. It looked like lovely weather. But we had cut hay this week, and we had a camping trip coming up. A camping trip that would include tents.

“…And we all know that rain clouds will go hundreds of miles out of their way to drizzle on tent canvas.”

My husband rolled his eyes, after all, he was looking right at a lovely weekend weather forecast.

“I know what it says. But we could make a sign that reads: ‘Hay cut—check. Hay raked—check. Hay dried—check. Baler ready—check. It’s raining.’”

I know that the weather is based upon satellites, weather patterns, barometric pressure and lots of computer models and statistics, but sometimes I think the rheumatism in Granny’s bones was almost as accurate.

If I was to create a weather prediction technology, it would take the information gleaned from the computer, add in some arthritis and maybe a little rheumatism along with the following daily questionnaire:

1. Will you or your neighbor be washing your car or patio today?

2. Will you or your neighbor be cutting hay any time in the next week?

3. Is there a Scout group going camping in the next week?

For each yes answer, calculate an additional 33 percent chance of rain; for each maybe answer, add 15 percent. If you answer yes to all three, then you best test your lightning rods, and make sure your hail cannons are working.

We checked the weather periodically as the days got closer. Each time the numbers were a bit lower, but it still wasn’t forecasting rain. I was hopeful—but not optimistic. 

Less than a week before the camping trip, with many acres of hay on the ground, Granny’s rheumatism seemed to be acting up. The animals were agitated, and the morning air felt heavy.

The smell of rain wafted off and on throughout the day. By evening the sky looked a bit dark, and I wasn’t surprised to see big rain drops making patterns on the dirty windshield. Then came the thunder, and lightning, and loss of electricity.

The dog paced back and forth, the hot tub lid went crashing across the yard, the neighbor’s sheep shelter went visiting the adjoining pasture, some of the pretty rows of hay also went visiting, and what didn’t, got a good bath. It wasn’t a twister by any form of the imagination, but as branches scraped the windows, I couldn’t help but think of Kansas’ own Dorothy and our upcoming camping trip.

For the first time ever, I felt a touch of sympathy for the Wicked Witch of the West. She probably never experienced the joy of camping: campfires, guitars, hikes, roasted hot dogs and s’mores…

Which meant she also never experienced hiking blisters, ticks, aching bones from sleeping on uneven, rocky ground—and of course the rain. Rain which causes wet tents, wet sleeping bags, wet dogs, and wet socks.

One last glance at the weather forecast showed the highs plunging lower, and the precipitation percentages increasing. 

I looked down at my fingers holding the phone. Did I see just the slightest tint of green? I think I’m coming down with witch-itis. It’s probably just a matter of time before it covers my whole body! Perhaps I’ll skip the rainy camping trip, I’m feeling the need for a pair of powerful, red shoes—something worth melting for!

Brianna Walker is an Eastern Oregon farmer and columnist who contributes regularly to the Malheur Enterprise.