HOMEGROWN Life: The Gift of a Good Rain


| 9/7/2012 2:16:43 PM


Tags: drought, farming, missouri, irrigation, crop insurance, climate change, disaster, donate, farm aid, Farm Aid and Homegrown.org,

 after the rain 

After months of waiting, worrying and hoping, the clouds finally arrived here at Yellabird Farm last week and brought us the long-sought gift of good rain. It was a great two days of slow and soaking moisture that the cracked soil guzzled up with gusto. Seven inches was the tally. And it has brightened up the spirits of all of us: man, woman, child, goat, chicken, cow, clover, oak tree, frog, songbird. The whole living community around here is crying out with joy.

Just like the Earth breaking from sleep in the spring, this soaking rain has brought the farm back to life. Alfalfa has shot to the sky in the past few days. Many grasses have re-emerged. The dust has settled, at least for now. after the rain mushrooms
 

The rain even brought up some edible wild mushrooms, a special summer rain treat.

And while the feel-good moisture has perked up life throughout West Missouri, it also leaves me with a lot of questions about how to proceed. If it took a massive slow-moving Hurricane named Isaac to finally quench the thirst of a broad agricultural region, what can the agricultural community do to be more resilient in the face of drought?

I have had a very different set of experiences and education than many of my neighbors. My thirty-five years have been an era of ecological awareness and science-based education. I have even worked as part of the environmental and conservation movement throughout my career. This was my path back to the farm; the path of trying to find the right place for humans to live in and with the world without unnecessarily harming other creatures (human or nonhuman).

It is an outcome of this path that leads me to my greatest fear as a beginning farmer. I’m afraid that the drought we just experienced, followed by massive rain events, could become a more frequent weather pattern due to a changing climate. And the climate is changing partially because of our industrial agriculture practices. We have worked hard for more than a hundred years now to pump additional carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by consuming fossil fuels and using petroleum based fertilizers. We have concentrated our livestock and their manure into greenhouse gas emission factories in the form of feedlots and indoor poultry and pork confinements. Pumping all of that extra gas out into the atmosphere has consequences as the chemical makeup of the air changes. So we shall see what the long-term impacts are.

nancy smith
9/8/2012 3:24:37 AM

I often marvel at nature's resilience, but I worry that we're near its limit for recovery. I do think we are making progress in educating both producers and consumers. Nancy





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