Last week as I was mowing my lawn, I could feel the rough, bumpy, hard ground that badly needed a good drink of water. Some areas, after two weeks, still didn't need to be mowed but others where there was some shade did.
As I was riding around looking at my very brown lawn, I couldn't help but think about my farmer friends that have to watch field after field of corn or soybeans suffer from the lack of rain and the heat. Not much they can do about it, but they have to be concerned.
And when even a half or three-fourths of an inch of rain falls, they are thankful. At the same time, they know their crops need much more.
Think back. What a difference a year can make. Last year, it didn't stop raining in the spring until early June so crops could be planted. Then we had rains much of the summer along with some hot weather. That brought crops along and there was a record harvest in the field.
Then there was a problem. The mature corn and soybeans ready to harvest were in the fields and it wouldn't stop raining long enough to get them harvested. It took extra time and work and different equipment to get them out of the fields.
Resourceful farmers finally got the job done, but at a cost. There were extra harvest costs in time and labor.
Then many fields were badly cut up and the ruts that resulted had to be smoothed out this spring. It was a wet year.
Now this year, as we all know, we can't seem to "buy a good rain.'' What we need is a good, gentle two-day ran that will sink down deep into the soil and not run off.
But with the summer thunderstorms, we may get some old-fashioned "gullywashers." They help, but too much of the moisture runs off and doesn't replenish the ground water supply.
This kind of a year teaches us about the importance of water. In this area, we usually have enough and often too much. We have the heavy winter snowfalls that we didn't get last winter to help replenish our moisture.
But a dry drought like summer teaches us a different lesson.
Across this country, water conservation is important. Those who live in town may not be aware of the need to conserve on water. Usually, they just have to turn on the faucet to get a supply of clean, safe water.
In other parts of the world, a lack of water is a limiting factor in both economic development and a quality life. In some countries, people may walk miles to get just enough water to drink and for cooking.
Agriculture, as well as our urban areas, is a major user of water. Again, there are ways to conserve and farmers are putting them into practice.
Much research is being done on developing drought resistant varieties of corn and soybeans and progress is being made. Water conserving types of irrigation are also being used.
There is competition between urban areas and farming in some parts of the country, especially California and other western areas. Some say it will get more intense as time goes on and there is more urban demand as well as more demand for food. This illustrates the need for conservation of water resources.
Coming back to our local area, some folks say that it always rains during the Ashtabula County Fair. If so, come on out to the fair next week in Jefferson, sit back and watch some livestock judging, visit with your friends and enjoy a good rain.
Parker is a voice for agriculture and writes for the local Farm Bureau and others.