Sunday, July 22, 2012

Drought, History, and a County Fair Next Week

Sunday, July 22, 2012. As we say in Minnesota, 'it could be worse.' My yard is tan, with patches of green highlighting the weeds: not exactly a 'house beautiful' scene, but the lawn will recover.

It's been a dry summer: but at least the weeds are green. July 19, 2012.

I haven't heard how crops are coming along in this part of central Minnesota: but my guess is that we're better off than folks down in southern Illinois, Nebraska, and other places with "extreme" to "exceptional" drought. I made 'thumbnail' copies of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's U.S. Drought Monitor's last two maps:

(from U.S. Drought Monitor, used w/o permission)
Drought conditions, July 10, 2012.

(from U.S. Drought Monitor, used w/o permission)
Drought conditions, July 17, 2012.

The good news is that it's been worse: in the 1930s, and again in the 1950s. We learned from the Dust Bowl, and farmers should be doing a much better job of soil management these days.

The bad news is that we'll probably be spending more for food, later this year. Still - 'it could be worse.' Pricier steaks and a tighter household budget is a whole lot better than a famine. This article compared this year's drought to some of what happened in 'the good old days:'
"Historic drought to bring higher food prices, experts say" (July 17, 2012)

"The historic drought baking the nation's breadbasket is about to hit American consumers where it hurts most -- the supermarket checkout.

" 'Prices are going to go up, Justin Gardner, assistant professor of agribusiness at Middle Tennessee State University, told the Christian Science Monitor. 'The only question is when.'

"Everything from breakfast cereal to roast beef will cost more as a result of the worst drought in 24 years, which has already prompted authorities to declare more than 1,000 counties in 26 states -- nearly two-thirds of land in the lower 48 states, stretching from Nevada to South Carolina -- natural disaster areas.

"Only in the 1930s and the 1950s has a drought covered more land, according to federal figures released Monday. So far, officials say there's little risk of a Dust Bowl-type catastrophe, but crop losses could mount if rain doesn't come soon -- and that means across-the-board higher food prices...."
That drought map probably doesn't tell the whole story. I was near Hillsboro, North Dakota, this weekend: an area that the U.S. Drought Monitor shows as having 'severe' drought conditions. Harvest was under way: come to think of it, this seems rather early for that sort of thing. Besides, I don't know what the yield per acre is.

Harvest in the Red River Valley of the North. July 20, 2012.

The Stearns County Fair starts this week. Folks were starting to set up the midway when I got home this afternoon.

Getting ready for the Stearns County Fair. July 22, 2012.

I missed Sinclair Lewis Days: that was July 15 through today. It's been a mildly hectic week: at least it felt that way.

Sunset. July 22, 2012.

I plan to get a good night's sleep, start Monday morning refreshed and - good grief. I've got medical stuff to do in St. Cloud tomorrow. Oh, well: there's only a 20 percent chance of rain, and I gather that we could use the moisture.

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