News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

August 18, 2012

READERS’ FORUM: Aug. 18, 2012

What will it take to get more rain?

Are we now entering a weather trend like the 1930s; with a very warm March and hot, dry June, July and first of August? One may think so. If so, what changes could be made to obtain relief from this hot, dry weather?

As I entered Central Bible College in Springfield, Mo., from 1957 through 1962, the farmers in that area had just ended a five-year drought. Several of these farmers had to sell their farms and had taken jobs in the city in order to survive. Even some of the trees died from lack of rain in this period.

For now, I would like to take you on a hot, dry journey during the all-time record-breaking year of 1936 when I was 6 years old. Our family lived in a four-room house of which two of the rooms were made of covered logs. This was located on a 40-acre farm five miles northeast of Terre Haute, and one mile south of Sandcut on the Rosehill Road.

The only clothing I had was a one-piece overhaul, no shoes, socks or underwear. Because of no electricity, we had a wood-burning cook stove. One hot, July day in 1936, father said, “We must move out of this 117-degree house as soon as possible.” For the next few weeks, we slept under a tree in the front yard.

Being a farmer for over 50 years, I too have experienced several hot, dry years. In 1966, my neighbor, Joe Archer, whose sandy farm is located one mile south of Rosedale, felt the effects of no rain. Joe said that his soybeans averaged six bushels per acre while his corn averaged three bushels per acre. That year Joe survived the drought by grinding up the corn fodder and blowing it into his newly built silos. By contrast, my heavy bottom ground averaged around 80 bushels of corn per acre.

Then 1987 was another hot, dry year. When President Ronald Reagan toured these parts, rain seemed to follow him. The grateful farmers praised God for those answered prayers. However, those fields only averaged about half a crop that year. After World War II, farming was very different than presently. Their four-year crop rotation consisted of wheat, hay, soybeans, corn and then back to wheat again.

This helped to increase the fertility of the soil. Each spring, cow or horse manure would be spread on the ground. Green rye would be plowed under for fertilizer and weed prevention. Only a small amount of dry fertilizer would be used. Next, the farmers would harrow the crop once. Then they would cultivate the crop two or three times. Lastly, the farmers would take hand hoes to finish chopping out the weeds.

Today, farming is very different. Even small farmers operate 1,000 acres or more. Farmers are influenced by agribusiness in choosing supplies such as fertilizers and weed control. The farm seeds are very expensive. The thick planting of corn seed quickly dries out the moisture from the soil. That type of planting plus the hot, dry weather results in a very poor harvest. Many farmers only plant and harvest the crops today.

Being 82 years young, I’m no longer farming. However, my son John and I still garden about one-third of an acre plot. Because of the hot, dry weather, we’ve been forced to run two water wells to keep moisture in the ground. We’ve been blessed by enough produce to share with others, much less than usual though.

Back to the beginning question, “How can we get the rain we so badly need?” Accepting that the God of heaven and earth is in control, we turn to the scriptures for the answer. God speaking to King Solomon, son of David, said, “When I shut up heaven, and there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people: if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and heal their land.” (2nd Chronicles, Chapter 7, vs. 13-14 NKJV)

We often say God bless America, but what can we change to please God? The Ten Commandments were given for us to obey, thus obedience would please God.

— Billy Gene Brant

Terre Haute

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