Day 38 CCR: Not Enough Rain
The title of today’s blog post may seem odd, given my frequent complaints earlier in the Cross Canada Ride about too much rain. But on the Croonberg Ranch, the problem is just the opposite. Not enough.
As expected, the day began with more oil changes in tractors and other mechanical work that needed to be done to keep machinery safe and operating. And there’s a lot of machinery on a ranch. Linda has, I think, five tractors and twice as many implements needed for a haying operation such as mowers, rakes, bailers, loaders and more. And they all have to be maintained and repaired. One of the biggest tractors that got serviced today took more than five gallons of oil to fill the crankcase after it had been drained.
And one of the mowers needed to have the blades sharpened. And the connections on another tractor needed to be tightened to keep the three-point hitch attached. And one of the headgates on an irrigation ditch needed to be checked. And on and on. I mostly tried to stay out of the way as Linda and Doug took care of business, but occasionally I helped by fetching tools or cleaning up as their chores were completed. Or fetching a cold beer.
This afternoon, clouds started to build and darken, and weather radar indicated small pop-up storms in southeastern Wyoming. But would any of them pass over Croonberg ranch and release much needed moisture onto the the hay meadows? Normally, by the first of July the ranch would have recorded 6-8 inches of moisture (snow and rain). So far this year, Linda’s personal weather station has recorded 2.44 inches, and most of that came in the form of winter snow. Spring and early summer has been dry. Very dry.
So we watched the sky. On the plains of Wyoming one can see for miles, sometimes as much as 50 miles. We could see rain falling on neighboring ranches, but the storms seemed to be bypassing Linda’s place. Then, from the direction of Sheep Mountain we could see a cloud headed our way with rain. It came and it went, leaving behind only .04 inches of rain. Less than a tenth of an inch. But Linda was grateful for what little she got and looked forward to Wednesday when weather forecasters predicted there might be more rain. In the meantime, she goes about her business, taking care of what she can and trying not to worry about the things she can’t control.
In the evening, when the ground had dried and there was no evidence of the brief rainfall, we talked about life on a ranch. Linda remains optimistic, as most ranchers and farmers must be in order to move from year to year not knowing what lies in store. It’s a life Linda loves and won’t give up. She is a rare breed and I admire her tenacity and dedication to the land.
Tomorrow, I’ll pack my bike again and ride into the rising sun. But I’ll come back to Croonberg Ranch whenever I get the chance.