Thursday, August 9, 2012

When Texas Meets North Dakota

What do you get when Texas meets North Dakota?  Sounds like a second grader’s joke of the day.  It’s not.  There’s this cool little web site called “The Wind Map”.

It’s an animated map of the continental United States showing how the wind is blowing each day. 

Today there’s a prediction for heavy to severe storms, and a casual comment from my husband wondering if it would split and go north and south of us, prompted me to check out the map.

There’s a strong North Dakota wind dropping down East of Colorado and a swift southern wind coming from Texas and moving north.  The line where they are converging is swirling and this is where radar is showing a line of thunderstorms.   Oh yes, I do so love weather and I’d love it more if it contained some rain this summer.  But, I digress.

I know in the whole scheme of things, weather watching can be a bit unimportant.  But folks, I was born in the Midwest – on a farm – it’s what we do!  We watch the weather, we talk about the weather and if you don’t launch into a “Soooo, think it’ll rain?” you’re immediately categorized as an outsider.

Weather watching and talking was born of necessity for farm families.  Ideal conditions and farmers can make the payments.  Less than ideal and they’re borrowing on next year.  Extreme conditions and it may mean losing the farming operation.  I know I’m preaching to the experts on that one, but, I’ve found (even in the Midwest) the vast majority of residents don’t understand where and how their food is grown.

Our farmer ancestors had a lot of folklore for when to plant and harvest.  This is folklore based on the experience of generation upon generation.  They didn’t have the high tech in-cab devices to tell them what part of the field is ready to pick.  They didn’t have pesticides and few options for fertilizers except manure and rotation of crops. 

Most based a goodly part of their farming practices on Biblical direction.  Some still leave a certain portion of their crops for others – either in the fields, through mission donations, or donations to food banks.  It not only was stewardship, it was proof positive that the hand that gives will receive back tenfold. 

If you don’t think farmers still depend, or at least glance, at the old practices, check to see how many Farmer’s Almanacs are sold each year.  What is farming today:  high tech, innovative, grounded in family and enhancing their corner of the world.  It is also history, ancestors, folklore, and weather watching.

We casual gardeners are the cousins of the farming community.  We may not make as big an impact upon the world as farmers, but we can make an impact upon our family and community.  Gardeners can and should make the decisions to hand down our piece of the earth in better shape than when we started digging.

As I’m typing this, I’m watching the 85 degree morning, the wind direction, radar showing a storm over Iowa and wondering:  “Soooo do you think it’ll rain?”

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