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Editor’s Column: Dry weather ahead this year?

March went out like a lion in southeast Saskatchewan this year. On Friday the 23rd, the school buses in our region took the kids to school, but when a blizzard blew in, the school division decided it wasn’t safe to bring them home. (This is either inconvenient, or a great chance for a kid-free weekend, depending on your situation and attitude.)

On Monday the 26th, we woke up to a thick fog. The school bus came to pick up our son, but my husband got about 20 miles toward Moose Jaw through the fog when he realized that, driving at 50 km/h, all the way, trapped behind the slow traffic on Highway 13, there was no way he could get there in time for his meeting, so he cut his losses and came home.

All this weather is making it difficult to get the last of our seed cleaned up and ready for the season. And the most worrying thing from our point of view: it’s not bringing much snow.

We’re hearing reports of farmers in other parts of the Prairies having so much snow they aren’t sure where all of the water will go. But even with all of the warnings we’ve had, we’ve barely seen any actual moisture. Somehow the storms miss us — just swirling by the farm teasing us with snow that never actually lands here.

After rashly using up most of our subsoil moisture to grow a crop last season, we’re not sure we’re going to have enough left to get us through this summer. Will we have enough moisture to plant canola? Would soybeans have a chance? The “d” word is working its way into our last-minute cropping decisions.

Flood to drought in seven years

Yesterday a man stopped by our farm to see if we were interested in buying some aerial photos of the yard his company had taken last summer.

We weren’t that busy on a foggy Sunday afternoon, it’s been awhile since we bought a nice aerial photo of our farm and we haven’t yet mastered the art of flying a drone over the yard at the right angle, so we were interested in taking a look.

They took the photo on the right day. The lawn is green, the fields look beautiful behind the house. There’s a nice blue sky in the distance. I’m not sure how they do it, but in the photo, you can’t see the weeds around our trees, and it looks like our grass is mown.

The last aerial photo of the farm we have is from 2010. It’s a nice photo too, but we’ve added quite a few buildings and bins since it was taken, and our yard looks quite different now.

The man with the photos told us that a few of these photo companies have gone broke. They tried to take photos too often, but farmyards don’t usually change that much over two or three years. People don’t need to update their pictures.

“Our company takes photos every seven or eight years, so we don’t oversaturate the market,” he told us.

“Funny, though,” he said, frowning and looking down at some notes. “We didn’t take any out here in 2011 or 2012.”

My husband and I laughed. Nobody would have paid for a framed reminder of that summer. The canoe we were using in the back of the yard probably would have been in the photo. Instead of grain fields, the picture would have shown overfilled sloughs, water runs and mud. Maybe now, seven years later, we could look at that photo without feeling sick, but in the immediate aftermath, someone coming to the door with that photo under his arm would have been escorted out pretty quickly.

We bought the 2017 picture. Framed. And a second framed copy for my father-in-law’s birthday (please don’t tell him). Somehow this picture captures the perfect summer day, the perfect time between drought and too much rain. The perfect summer afternoon when every field is green, there are no weeds in sight, and the lawn looks great.

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