Farmers need to hear their weather

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Last week, I talked with a wise fellow who has witnessed many changing seasons. We discussed how unseasonably hot it has been for October as he wiped the sweat from his brow.
“You know, the old timers used to say that one weather extreme leads to an even worse weather extreme in the following season,” he said to me, and with a wink he added, “Ya might want to get your snow shovel hunted up!” Oh, boy.
No one wants to contemplate that one, but we’ll get what we get when we get it. And we have to be tough enough to deal with it without whining.
Mark Twain once said, “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.”
Weather report. Lots of truth to that one! No one feels the impact of weather in quite the same way as the farmers of this world.
I still remember the hush that automatically came over our round kitchen table when the noon weather report came on, especially during the heat of summer.
Dad not only needed to know the forecast’s chance of rain, but he needed to hear the humidity level and the morning dew point average.
One summer, we had a city boy cousin visiting from Kentucky. He liked to talk. He liked to hear himself talk. And laugh, and slap his knee if he repeated a particularly funny one.
Job. Before lunch on that July day, Dad pulled my sister aside and said, “I’m putting you in charge of keeping that boy quiet when the weather report comes on.”
All I remember feeling is great relief that it wasn’t me who had been the chosen one for that job!
My poor sister started eating with a look of grave concern on her face. I kept watching the clock right along with her.
Our cousin kept right on talking, telling stories of all of his favorite foods and just how these had become his favorite “vittles” and then charged full steam ahead telling us the secret recipe for one of these dishes, which I still remember was “wilted lettuce” which he pronounced with a very strong southern accent.
“I just thought of something!” my sister said with manufactured enthusiasm. “Come outside with me – quick!” she said to our cousin. “But I’m not done eating these great vittles,” Ronnie answered.
He was not about to vacate the plate. We all exchanged glances of grave concern. This day’s weather report was vital, issuing the deciding factor of whether or not to mow second crop hay. And the weather broadcast was just about a minute away.
Rambling. Ronnie kept right on eating. And talking. And laughing. “I have an idea for dessert!” my sister said. “Please come outside and see if my idea fits any of those great recipes you have!”
Ronnie put down his fork, turned toward my sister and said, “Well, it’s just gonna have to wait. I’m eating!”
Dad put down his fork, went over to the radio and turned up the volume. Full tilt. Ronnie started talking louder. The intensity was deafening.
Finally, my sister said, “We have this rule that everyone has to be quiet when the weather report comes on.”
“But I don’t care one whit about the weather! And I’m company!” Ronnie replied. We all held our breath. The weather man came on the radio at that very moment. “Chance of rain is …”
And Ronnie let loose with a loud laugh, followed by a great story he just remembered. We all held our breath.
Oh my goodness, we were about to witness some sort of indescribable mayhem! It was our mother who saved the day.
Saved. Though Ronnie outweighed her by quite a bit, her adrenaline must have been pumping full steam just like mine was, because she lifted that boy up by his shirt and escorted him outside, quick as you please.
Wow. She had saved his life. It was a day that would go down in history!

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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