MY apology to the good Lord. Hell is much worse I am sure; but it is bad, bad in my area in the ways droughts go.
My wife has wondered why after a little apprehension at the beginning of this drought I am pretty calm, well calm for me. Once we went under 85% of our proven yields crop insurance kicks in and well a higher fall price takes more of the sting out of the drought.
I also pre-sold very little grain. So what bushels we will have will be sold at a higher price. I just had a feeling after going from June 26th to September 3rd last year with no rain we were in for it. This set up just like 1987/1988 did for us. Poor ground in 1987 and 2011 had poor yields, good ground in 1987/2011 did very good on below average rainfall, but we had reserves in the ground in 1987 and 2011. We also have been below average for rainfall since July of 2011 every month until now.
We also drilled 3 count ’em 3 new wells last fall when it was very dry. One at our house one at Dad’s and one at a farm we own 2 miles away that is over “the aquifer”. If that 135 foot well goes dry it is really over for everybody. The wells at the houses are all shallow water wells. We have lime and coal seams under the ground here and no deep water. But, with new technology the well drillers can go below the sand bearing seam of water and drill a “reservoir”
of water holding capacity that these old hand dug wells could just not do. Once they hit water they had to stop digging. These new wells are dug using a steel tube that they can put down the boring to hold back saturated soil and they hydra flood the hole with massive amounts of water to use water pressure to keep the boring hole from caving in. These wells only supply about 3 gallons a minute during a drought, but with 2000 gallons of storage in the wells themselves it is hard to run them dry.
Most “old” wells are not truly “dry” they just cannot gather water as fast as it is being pumped out and they have no excess capacity to allow the well to re-fill with water between pumpings.
And the well in “the aquifer” is just a 9 inch bored well with a 5 inch plastic pipe put down it with a stainless steel screen on the bottom. We could pump between 80 to 100 gallons a minute out of it. We also could bore a bigger hole a few feet away from it and run an irrigation rig with that well.
We do have one farm that is irrigated, 900 gallons a minute, but it is a full time job just making sure everything is running, we have broke down twice, once for almost 2 days, but we are glad we have the one “rig”. It is also over 15 miles away from home so it is fun just running up there and back. We also are running diesel fuel at the rate of almost 100 gallons a day. With the heat we have run it 9 out of the last 13 days.
We also have struggled to keep cattle cool during this heat. Main reason I have put off podcasting about the drought is I do not want to jinx a cows life. So, we will probably have one of them hoofs straight up by morning, but all are still alive as I write.
The kids have been hauling water to spray on them and we have just about every fan we can muster blowing air on cows. We have lots of show cattle equipment so we have over a dozen fans blowing at any one time.
Two pastures are also without water (since early May), we depend on ponds for water for the cattle both drinking and wading/cooling off in. So twice a day every day we haul water from “the aquifer” to other places. Two of the children now have driving licenses so the old black truck they hate to drive (it is hot in that black colored cab) is used 425 gallons at a time.
I could go on and on about us.
What are the long and short term effects of this drought. I will go into that and have a few predictions of my own.
Here is praying it will rain on you wherever you are at. Until you run out of water and have to haul it you do not know what chores are. Where I grew up we had to be mindful of our water use all the time and the major reason we are building a new show cattle barn over at “the aquifer” is if you have always had plentiful water you do not know how fortunate you are.
Facts and Predictions
Last time St. Louis had this many days in a row over 100 was 1936. 1936 around here equals a crop disaster.
There is corn dead in Illinois and not just the corn in deep southern Illinois on stress type soils, dead corn is on good black central Illinois ground.
Judi and I took a drive west and southwest today, not good, not good at all.
Best corn I have seen is up around Chicago where all the traders live.
Friend drove one route to West Texas last week and took another route back home. He said it was bad all the way, both ways.
I keep hearing from Wyoming to West Virginia it is dry all the way across.
Grain markets will find a top, when and where who knows.
Damage is worse this year than 1988 because spring was early and dry. We are 6 weeks ahead of 88.
NASS will not get the crop production right until a big crop is finally raised.
2014 big corn crop, generally a big crop 2 years after a drought.
Demand is/will be destroyed.
Big cash renters with high cash rents are in trouble.
Farmers with no or low level coverage crop insurance are in trouble.
Beef cow herd is on the way down to 20 million head nationally.
There is almost no hay for sale around here at any price, nobody is selling any hay right now.
Iowa and Minnesota will raise a crop, just not as good as one as the experts think they will, not just moisture but temperature that determines crop size.
South of Interstate 80 will be much worse than north. Jet stream is too far north for much of the Midwest.
It will rain sometime, but with advanced crop maturity it will not help as much as it would in a “normal” year.
There is no such thing as a “normal” year.
I cannot wait for 2012 to be over.
We will survive and be in shape to do it all over again next year.
If it stays dry, farm policy will become an election year issue. I do not think farm politics was on the national radar screen at all until now.