Water stands in giant puddles around the farm and numerous fields sport temporary frog ponds.
Many spots remain unplanted, without their intended crops of corn or soybeans. The planted fields are dotted with areas of yellowed stalks, struggling with too much moisture around their saturated roots.
That was the case for crops we observed during recent days of traveling, from mountain to valley to the north and expansive, flat fields to the south.
Meanwhile, around our farm and other farms in our neighborhood, dust was kicking up with each pass of equipment. To the delight of local growers of alfalfa and grass, windrowed hay dried beautifully, with small and giant rectangular bales, and various sizes of round bales dotting fields and on wagons waiting to be unloaded into hay storage barns.
Few things are more unpredictable, undependable and uncontrollable than the weather. Wait ... I’ll take that first one back, because weather has become a lot more predictable than it used to be. With satellites eyeballing our Earth from outer space, and our constantly improving radar technology, as well as computerized weather-projection programs honed almost to the minute when a storm or front is likely to pass over, we have a much better idea of what, when and how a day’s weather will deliver.
But, even with all of today’s amazing technology, we still can’t do a doggone thing about changing the weather. And, what a good thing that is. Can you just imagine the powers-that-be in Washington, D.C., trying to develop and pass weather-control legislation? Let’s hope that scenario never happens.
Still, rainstorms of late May and into June slid around our area, blowing off to the north or slipping by to the south, edging up along the foot of the front-range of our southern Pennsylvania stretch of Appalachian Mountains some distance to our west, or pounding the surf up the East Coast.
Dumping our rain gauge of the mere one or two-tenths of rain from successive storms, we pondered if we were going to get enough raindrops to nudge the last-planted soybeans up and out of the ground, and give a needed boost to baby corn plants in need of moisture to utilize the nutrients necessary for them to thrive.
Still, we reminded each other that, prior to the invasion of last year’s endless pounding storms and rains that set moisture records for the area, we had been nibbling our nails in late June over the dryness, the dust and the rainclouds that floated off in other directions. Then, almost overnight, near-droughty conditions became swampy fields and our farm had a pop-up stream that continued to invite frogs and crayfish for many months that followed.
Suggesting at least the beginning of a summer rerun this season, early June saw dust puffs raised from the passing of equipment, instead of moisture splashed out from tractor tires passing by up and down our field road.
Then, after a couple of days of observing excessive wetness in crops during our travels, we arrived home to a rain gauge registering six-tenths of an inch of moisture. Less than a half-hour later, one of those bright red “storm spots” that show up on television weather maps, blustered right across the fields of our area, refilling the gauge with a couple more tenths. Added to the half-inch that had come just before we left for the few days away, our much-needed June rainfall had accumulated closer to the norm and in just the perfect fashion to best nurture the crops.
Almost overnight, rows of corn nudged up a bit higher, peeking out over the dying stalks of the tall cover-crop grasses collapsing down into mulch. Young soybean plants pushed out another set of leaves. The garden crops perked up in response, as lettuce headed toward bolting, tomatoes pushed out infant fruits and my tiny potato crop burst into blossom.
And, every grass seed hunkering down among the asparagus, tomatoes, strawberries and various other garden crops jumped into action, shooting down deeper roots and pushing out green strands around every tiny nook and cranny in the paper-cardboard-bedding straw mulch.
The response of plants to moisture and balmy temperatures remains a miracle that we take for granted, a benevolent blessing that provides food for both humans and beasts.
And, even the weeds have a bonus: they provide great bending and stretching exercises.