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Depending on the weather ...Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2012, at 11:45 AM
In January 2008, I wrote about the only "normal" months on the farm: January and February.
I called them my favorite, because I could "enjoy normal family life," or at least as close as one can get on the farm.
"How's the line go ... "We'll always have Paris." Well for our family, "We'll always have January and February!"
Note to self: When writing about Missouri weather, never, ever use "always." Hmmm, maybe I should skip using "never" too.
If I didn't know better, I would swear I somehow slept through my "favorite" months and woke up in March.
But alas, despite some evidence to the contrary, the calendar says it's still January. For one of the few times most farmers can remember, we have had several warm days -- and dry soil. That, of course, means farmers are in the field.
"It is also our time to plan a party, a vacation, or even a date. And something I really love, is that for two months, I can actually say "Yes" to an invitation without having to first say, "Well I don't know, it depends on whether we are putting on anhydrous, planting, haying, harvesting, calving, etc."
As a matter fact, just four years after I wrote that, we are putting on anhydrous in January. And I expect to see a corn planter go by any minute -- after all someone has to be first.
As of right now, though, I don't think we have any grass ready to bale, but there is always next week.
So in case you are planning on inviting us anywhere soon, our answer will be a firm, "It depends ..."
It's only fair to note that my farmers are happy to be getting ahead of the spring field-work. And the fact it is coinciding with college break is a pretty good deal for me as well. So the farmer in me can't help but be a little happy about the rare dry winter weather.
But most of the farmwives I have spoken with are more than a little upset about Mother Nature cutting into OUR time!
And we are very skeptical about our farmers' claims it will mean "less work" this spring. It's hard to imagine them sitting around the house when the sun is shining and the ground is dry.
"We spend most January and February evenings actually in the house. We can watch TV, surf the 'net, work on a crossword puzzle or even ignore each other if we want. No one is working late hours in the field or worrying about cows calving."
I haven't been able to ignore anybody all January. And they keep wanting me to serve dinner during my TV time -- even Grey's Anatomy.
As for vacation planning, I may never get one again. Just the other day, I overheard a conversation hubby was having with our sons. I'm pretty sure he said, "Well, this proves it, there is never a good time to leave the farm." (I feel the need to apologize in advance to my future daughter-in-laws for his words of wisdom. I'm afraid they may severely limit any trips off the farm for you, too.)
At first, I was hopeful maybe in a few years, they might forget this unusual January weather. But then I started hearing older farmers recall the winter of 1960.
Apparently it was one of the other rare times farm work was accomplished in the winter. Now just 50 short years later, they are still talking about it.
According to several area farmers and Pat Guinan, Missouri climatologist, that year we had a warmer than normal January.
But the rest of the story is even more interesting.
In 110 years of record keeping, March 1960 is still the coldest and snowiest Missouri March on record.
Area farmers said the month started with 25 straight days of snowfall (some days were just flurries.) Concordia had the highest snowfall total for the month -- 38.5 inches, according to Guinan. Farmers said bulldozers were used to push the large amounts of snow off the roads.
In typical Missouri fashion, March went out like a lamb, recording temperatures near 80 degrees in the last few days of the month. The heavy snowmelt, though, led to widespread flooding.
Now, I'm not predicting the same thing to happen this year, nor would I want it to, but I guess it goes to prove a valuable lesson. When you are a farm wife (or farmer) relying on the weather, you are bound to be disappointed -- especially in Missouri.
Oh well, I guess we'll always have February.
On second thought forget I ever wrote that ...
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