June 1, 2011



I guess I wouldn’t call it “global warming.” But I sure might be tempted to think along the lines of “climate change.” This is unreal!
Much of Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas have received more than their average annual moisture in the past month. Rivers are overflowing their banks. Towns that are normally high and dry are sandbagging, building dikes, and watching as the roads are sliding away or washing out. Bismarck-Mandan is preparing for flooding as I write, and with a forecast calling for more water and more wind, it has to be heart-wrenching for them. Sump pump salesmen will be looking at early retirement.
Our place is built up alongside a wonderful tree row. It holds the snow in our corrals. For the past two winters, snow has filled all of our pens. And we spend a good part of the summer slapping mosquitoes and wading through mud to our barn.
You know, thousands of years ago, the Indian people knew better than to build along the rivers of the northern plains. I guess we just forgot. Next time, I am building on a hill where the wind blows the snow away, and water runs downhill faster.
Highway 22 has been closed for over a week. Highway 85 is one slide away from being closed. People in the oil field are finding out why the Badlands got their name. Originally, travelers horseback or in wagons said it was “bad lands to cross.” And with thousands of cattle waiting to go to summer pasture, it is much more than inconvenient, it is expensive!
And don’t even get me started on the farming! We don’t farm much. We scratch around on a few sandy hills and put in a little crop. Hoping to get our seed back in the fall. We don’t have granaries and trucks and grain augers and stuff like that. So we will get by. And if our drill gets stuck, it isn’t a real big deal. It is only 15 feet wide. But I’ve heard stories of guys with huge equipment stuck. One farmer spent $18,000 renting an oil field crane to pull a new tractor and drill out of a mud hole! $18,000!
Well, it is sprinkling again this morning. But it might stop later today. And with winds of 55 mph, it could dry up a little. Maybe.
That reminds me of a story. We had a feller that worked for us years ago. He had been down in the breaks haying and a thundershower snuck up on him. And it dumped a bunch of rain in a short time. There wasn’t much road out of the Badlands. Just a two track across prairie and gumbo. So he was forced to just bring the tractor home.
About two miles from home he got stuck while crossing a dam. Now, the county road was just a few hundred yards from the dam, but being new to the country, he was a little unsure of where he was. So he walked down the creek instead. In a short time he was in the bush. Crawling through bullberry thickets and over beaver dams. He struggled along for hours. At one point, the creek he was following passed about 50 yards from the barn. But being down in the washout, struggling through the brush, he missed it. Below the barn he came to a fence which he followed back up to the road he had traveled on earlier.
After walking another mile he passed his tractor stuck on the dam. He went on by, hit the county road, and quickly followed it home.
I was just coming into the yard horseback when he came limping down the road. Muddy, scratched up, and played out. He looked like hell.
He had walked for several hours and began trying to explain where he was stuck. And he said, “There is another guy stuck right up by the road with a tractor just like ours!”
I think he later became governor.