He came riding in on a sunrise

A hot west Texas day

A fancy man in a painted wagon

Some fancy things to say

Looks like you folks'll need some water

Well water is my game

For the small price of a hundred dollars

I bet you I can make it rain

So get away all non-believers or the rain'll never come

Someone start a fire burning, somebody beat the drum

Some may think I'm crazy for making all these claims

But I swear before the day is over your folks'll see some rain.

Aug. 15, 2006 – Where are all the rainmakers when you really need them? That little ditty above, “Lizzy and the Rainman,” performed by the Hollies sometime in the ’60s or ’70s and possibly covered by Tanya Tucker sometime later, according to my friend Brad Robb, of the Cotton Board, reminds me of droughts gone by.

I remember hearing claims of mysterious men with curious contraptions riding into town in a cloud of dust and leaving in the dark of night or strapped to the underside of a sturdy sapling if they weren’t fast enough. I suspect rate of success was somewhat limited.

Unfortunately, or maybe not, I have heard little about rainmakers in the past few years. Perhaps it’s the technology. We can actually see a rainstorm via satellite, before it gets near close enough to smell the moisture in the air.

And most farmers have Internet connections they can open to see if storm cells promise to bring some rain.

I suspect that technology is a good thing. It helps folks make decisions about planting, spraying and harvest. It also might point out the need to move livestock or to move themselves out of harm’s way when bad weather is coming.

But sometimes I miss the surprise a sudden summer storm brings. I recall scurrying outside to help my mother grab clothes off the line before they got drenched. And we occasionally had to abandon blackberry or muscadine picking when a sharp thunderclap and stiff wind alerted us to impending danger. And don’t get me started on missed fishing trips!

And technology has certainly limited potential for colorful rainmen, but if current predictions hold — drought extending well into fall and maybe into 2007 — they could make a comeback.

I suspect I could find a few investors willing to put up a hundred dollars for a good soaking rain.

e-mail: rsmith@farmpress.com