Rain and construction

I bet some readers are distressed with all of the road construction this year. I think this is the perfect year for construction although not because of economic benefit or simple convenience.

Minnesota in the summer of 2017 started out dry which is typically helpful for planting crops. It then rained quite a bit in May which eliminated a lot of areas that were close to drought. Timely rain is a term which means you get rain just when you need it, like getting a drop shipment of parts the day before you build a product. Timely rain is great because the alternative is either drought or excessive moisture. Drought prevents growth and excessive moisture either hurts crop or makes field work difficult. The timely rain quit around here last summer just in time for harvest time so any local drought conditions were not felt.

I belong to a group called “Area Rainfall”on Facebook. It’s a nice resource for farmers or anyone who is interested in local weather. Using a start date of August 17, 2018 and ending at freeze-up, we saw about 4.2 inches of rain according to the entries from the Area Rainfall page. That sounds pretty good but prior to these events, the ground was hard and dry. It was so hard that we no-tilled some rye and clover that never found enough moisture to germinate. I was looking through some rainfall amounts and local storms delivered rain gauge reading that varied by as much as 3 inches. We used to receive storms that blanketed the area, they seem much more localized.

When it is dry, then the vegetative matter that sits on that dry ground is also dry. When we get a rain event, dry ground matter has to absorb some moisture before it re- hydrates to a point that the rain runs off and goes into the ground. The topsoil then needs to re-hydrate so moisture can get through to the subsoil. While the soil tries to drink up, the clouds have already disappeared and the sun and wind reappears and begins the process of evaporation which means the moisture that could have added to soil moisture goes into the sky and gets blown somewhere else. Several small rain events just tease the ground but don’t truly satisfy its’ thirst.

The other problem with dry conditions is that they create more dry conditions. If there isn’t excess moisture in the air then rain that occurs thousands of feet above ground may be absorbed by dry air. If you have a wide-spread drought then there is no ground close by that has excess moisture to evaporate. You get your rain from other areas that have enough excess moisture that is evaporated and then transported on the wind to your farm or garden. If the nearest excess moisture is a few states away, you may not see it. The long and short of it is we we either need some darn timely rain or a lot of it in a few doses.

As a part-time farmer, I always look to the future in uncertain times so I may try to replant some pasture in hope of timely rain. I look to the future. This is why it is the perfect year for construction, the weather is right for it. Nothing stretches out a construction schedule like being unable to work because of rain. So, now is the time to look to the future. Don’t think about how inconvenient construction makes your life, think about how nice it will be this winter when you drive on that new asphalt or use the improved utilities. After you are done thinking about that and enjoying your improved perspective, maybe you could pray for a little rain.

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