Farm Press Blog

Rain is coming to West Texas — sometime


North Texas gets abundant rain; West Texas remains dry. Farmers concerned about planting moisture.

“For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45

Except for West Texas.

I left Denton, Texas, Monday about noon in a slow, steady drizzle that had persisted, with occasional bursts of torrential rain and accompanying fireworks since sometime Saturday night. I was headed West, out to the Southern Plains and a few interviews.

“I hope they are getting this in West Texas,” I thought as I backed out of my garage.

I stopped about an hour later in Jacksboro for lunch at the Village Kitchen, a frequent stop when I’m headed to Lubbock. The rain had diminished to a trickle as I found a booth and perused the menu. By the time I had finished my fried chicken dinner (I know, cholesterol.) the rain had stopped.

I continued westward, noticing wet pavement, water in the roadside ditches and still dripping from tree branches—for about another hour. By the time I stopped in Aspermont for a necessary break and a bit of caffeine, the rain had stopped; the earth was dry. It was obvious that no rain had fallen here for weeks—longer.

It got drier. By the time I had passed the 6666 Ranch, which had turned from green to brown in the month since I had last driven by, the drought was even more evident. Horses and foals that I saw munching grass in early April were gathered at the edge of a dusty paddock picking at bales of hay

I passed several burned over range areas. Several deer stretched through fences to get at anything green they could find on the roadside. Others were easily visible lounging under bare-limbed mesquite.

I made the Caprock by late afternoon. A few tractors were working the fields, nearly obscured in the red dust they stirred as they passed over bare dirt. Dust devils by the dozens twirled across the parched soil. Spindly stalks of wheat held stunted heads, promising no grain and scant forage; a few cattle grazed on the sparse plants.

Tuesday I visited farmers. One said he had not had a decent rain since last July. Another said he has already paid several irrigation bills that equaled those he accrued last summer. Both were pre-watering, wetting the ground enough to germinate the cottonseed they intend to start planting next week.

They need rain.

I felt a bit guilty. All the moisture we had over the weekend will mean a few less times I’ll have to water my lawn or the tomato and pepper plants and the annuals Pat and I planted Saturday. But we know our livelihood will not be affected if all those plants wither in the heat. I would have gladly shared a few inches of that rain with West Texas.

The farmers I talked to were more optimistic than I expected. They told me that it will rain—sometime. It always has. They have faith that God will answer their prayers and send rain—or provide the perseverance they need to get by on whatever comes.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

J.Cop (not verified)
on May 11, 2011

Not only have we not had rain, but the fires have burned through our pastures. The good news... it did some much needed clean up. The bad news...many fences were lost, some livestock, and many rural resources. Not to mention the water that was used to put out the fires - water we just don't have. Farmers feed and cloth America! So, prayers are much needed.

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