The best plans never rely on the weather

farm storm

When The Kithship Collective, an arts organization I help run, started planning for a pasture concert on the ranch in early August, the last thing on our mind was coming up with an alternate location in case of rain.

I have, unfortunately, had to cancel many an outdoor event due to high winds, and we’ve certainly been chased in by sudden summer storms, but the idea that we might not be able to hold a concert because of a slow, steady evening-long rain in August?

Well, it only occurred to us as a thing to crack jokes about, as in, “At least we don’t have to worry about rain, hahahahahahaha …”

Yes, August may bring an abundance of grasshoppers, flies or on a bad year garden-crushing hail, but never, ever the kind of rain shower that would require cancellation of an outdoor event.

The end of July brought a few days with temperatures in the triple digits, which is exactly what one would expect for our part of the prairie. Most of July had been unusually cool; however, and it’s been a surprisingly un-windy summer as well, so I was starting to get nervous. Surely, we couldn’t expect things to remain calm and pleasant.

We were planning to film the concert, and that meant we really needed good sound — even a tiny bit of wind can wreck a live recording. After the unusually temperate summer, it seemed we were overdue for the kind of extremes that usually characterize our weather patterns here.

At the last minute, we decided to move the concert from a relatively open area to our yard, where we’d have more staging options if we needed them.


And then sometime last week our cellphones started warning us of flash floods.

“Flash floods?” I said to my husband, looking down at my phone, then staring up at the white, blazing sun. I’d just gotten done painting a wall in the outbuilding we’d decided to use as the makeshift stage for the concert, and my paint-splattered shirt was soaked with sweat. Above our heads, there wasn’t a single cloud in the bright blue sky, and there was nothing but more blue for miles in every direction. Flash floods were the last crisis I could possibly imagine.

“It’s for tomorrow,” he said. “It’s supposed to start raining and not stop for a couple days.”

Well. So much for ‘it never, ever rains in August in Western South Dakota.’

“Don’t worry,” my husband said, I’m sure noticing the fear that had sprung into my eyes. “It will stop way before the show.”

Fingers crossed

Tomorrow is the concert. By the time this goes to print, the show will be over, and it will hopefully have gone well. As I type this, a hard, steady rain is beating against the window over my desk. The forecast has remained steadfast in its conviction that the rains will indeed cease in plenty of time for us to set up the stage and equipment, and there isn’t predicted to be a breath of wind. Is it possible we will actually get that lucky?

Thankfully, the outbuilding will ensure the show can go on regardless of changes in the forecast, but what about the audience? Navigating the sloppy, mud-fest of our yard after another day of ceaseless rain will be interesting. While the manure rivers that flow from the barnyard after an epic rain event are great for the grass, they might be less great for folks who don’t think to wear tall mud boots to a concert.

Meanwhile, all this rain means the prairie will probably stay green until snow flies, and no one will be sad about that. I am, however, once again considering how hilarious it is that we humans ever attempt to make any plans at all.


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Eliza Blue is a shepherd, folk musician and writer residing in western South Dakota. In addition to writing her weekly column, Little Pasture on the Prairie, she writes and produces audio postcards from her ranch and just released her first book, Accidental Rancher. She also has a weekly show, Live from the Home Farm, that broadcasts on social media every Saturday night from her ranch.



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