Thursday, June 4, 2009

Summer Storms

I used to think the phrase "when I was a kid" was something that only a really old person used, but last night I used it with our girls. At about 9:30 last night, we had a thunderstorm like we used to have "when I was a kid" in Sonora. The sky lit up with lightning, the wind kicked up, and we had about a 1/2 inch of rain. What a treat!

Summer thunderstorms in our part of the world can be fun, exciting and/or scary - sometimes all at once. They are fun because it's a treat to get rain during the dry season - the rain cleans everything and makes the outdoors smell good. They are exciting because of the noise and light - we talked about them being nature's fireworks last night. Finally, they are scary when they lack enough rain to counteract the fire-starting potential of the lightning. The worst wildfires "when I was a kid" were do to dry lightning storms.

From a ranching and farming perspective, summer thunderstorms have good points and bad points, too. Last night's rain will help the irrigated pastures we graze, but it will also leach the nutrients out of the dry grass we're saving for fall and winter. Tree fruit farmers are always worried about hail this time of year - a hailstorm can wipe out an entire crop. Hay growers (and those of us that depend on hay) worry about cut hay getting wet before it's baled (which can make the hay moldy). Timberland owners are obviously worried about the fire-producing potential of lightning storms.

As a farmer, I'm both a spectator and a participant when it comes to weather. I love watching storms! Generally, I also love working in all kinds of weather (provided I'm prepared for it). Sounds like we'll have more of the same over the next 3-4 days - just like "when I was kid."

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