Friday, May 24, 2013

Limits of the Sky

Today was my first full day back at Second Chance Ranch this season. Though I rushed to get here, it’s been a slow start as I am still waiting for the soil to dry out so I can plant. We (Kirk and I) practically had to swim our way here….


Somewhere outside Valentine, Nebraska, we stopped at a gas station to pee. In the ladies room, I noted a big scale – the kind you put a quarter into for your weight, lucky lotto numbers and fortune. I couldn’t resist.

My weight was an astonishing number that I will not be sharing here. (After months of Mama Iva’s delicious cooking, generous meals of my various hosts and urban culinary indulgences, I have gotten (ahem) fluffier. I take some comfort in the knowledge that a summer of manual labor will inevitably melt some – but not all – of my hard-earned fat.  The rest will have come off through something called “sheer will power”, which sounds curious.)

I then ignored my lucky lotto numbers and waited for my fortune. Finally, it came:


Positive, right? Hopeful, no?

Alas, my fortune turned out to be a weather warning of the most literal kind. Over the next few days, the sky poured water on the region in torrential fashion. 

Approaching the farm.

 And it didn’t stop.

Rain seemed to splash down harder with each passing hour – big, fat, mean drops - which meant I could not plant. It also meant that the farmers couldn’t plant, and those that had were screwed because now their seed would flood and/or rot.  

With Brent (who had planted 500 acres already), we cruised the area, taking note of all the fields that were now lakes. Though I was disappointed that Kirk would have to leave before we could plant (he’d come along to help, again), I said nothing. In comparison to the real farmers, my problem was a mere inconvenience, not a sharp loss.

“Well,” I reasoned to my mother over the phone, “I wanted to know what it felt like to be a farmer and this is a taste of it. Weather can rearrange the best of plans.” 

Flooded field on right.
And for the nearby town of Cavalier (where I get my mail, water, groceries, gas, booze, etc.), it was about to get worse. The town of 1300 is under mandatory evacuation due to it being downstream of the Renwick Dam. There is such a surplus of water coming toward the dam, city officials fear it won’t be able to hold the volume. All citizens found lodging elsewhere, except for about 4 people, who refused to leave.

Of course, one of those four is Brent, SCRANCH hero and the ultimate guy-who-knows-a-guy. (When I arrived last Sunday, he already had the Mae Flower parked in her spot with the sewer hooked up, battery charged, propane filled – she was ready to go.) Brent’s not the kind of guy to run and hide, he’s more of a go-down-with-the-ship fellow. 

Officer Adam at one blocked Cavalier entrance. 
I hear the four remaining citizens have been passing the time mowing (a common pastime in these parts), monitoring the pumps and wondering why they did not buy more beer. The Border Patrol (?) and the Sherriff Department have blocked all three city entrances and are not allowing anyone in or out. So, Brent is trapped there which has to be driving him crazy because he’s not a man who likes to sit still. 

Cavalier citizens waiting for sandbags.
Last I heard, the evacuation will be lifted tomorrow (Friday) morning. Alas, the weekend calls for more rain. 

I shot this video last Wednesday. I was coming back from taking Kirk to the airport (about 1.5 hrs. south to Grand Forks) off of I-29, traveling west on Hwy 55, and was blocked by this waterfall. The driveway you see belongs to my cousin, Wayne Newell. Had to take the long way home from there.

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