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Farmgate: Grateful for rain, as much more is needed

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If you heard a strange sound starting about 2:30 a.m. Monday, I can identify it for you.

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It was a combination of raindrops hitting parched soil and withering plants, thunder, and a collective sigh of relief from area farmers (or at least those in our area) as a series of storms went through and we at last got some rain.

It was sorely needed— and we and our farms still need more. As I write this Monday midday, fingers are crossed for more rain this afternoon.

In eastern Ontario, we grow a wide variety of crops ranging from the small grains (oats, barley, wheat, and rye) to the corns, mostly as grain for ethanol or livestock feeds as well as silage for cattle.

There are also a fair number of acres growing sweet corn, the meal we love smothered in butter. For anyone who has stopped along a side road and raided a few dozen cobs from a field for supper, then been horribly disgusted once it was served— yes, there are two different types out there!

All these crops have had a hard time with temperature fluctuations this spring and now the heat and lack of rain makes it worse.

Hay is another big crop which is suffering around here, either straight alfalfa stands or mixed as well as many who, like us, ship grass-fed milk and have long realized the benefits of mixed grass and legume hay for their cattle.

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While the little bit of rain we got two nights ago was exceedingly welcome, it is by no means sufficient and more is badly needed, much more. Some are already expressing concerns regarding their wells.

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As the number of houses in each township increases, so do the demands on the underground water supplies to which their wells are connected. Every gallon pumped at a new house is directly competing with existing users of that aquifer. Water drawn for residential uses over and above our normal essential needs is competing with the water required for the numerous livestock farms.

It becomes a question of which is more important: farmer Brown’s cows, farmer White’s chickens, or washing the family vehicles, topping up the pool and running sprinklers to keep expansive lawns green.

Many ex-urbanites forget their wells do not get water from rivers, or think of that casing sticking out of the lawn and the water it produces as theirs. In truth it is not. The water source your pump is pulling from is a communal, underground pool.

Your neighbors may be using it, or another one at a different depth, as well as someone a mile or even more away. You share it. When it goes dry or is unable to supply everyone’s needs, essential or not, everyone on it will suffer.

Please, during a period of dryness (I am so hesitant to use the word “drought” as I think of the dust bowl of the 1930s) such as now, consider how vital it is to use water from underground sources with responsibility.

Take your car to a car wash in town, have water delivered for the pool. Both are sources from the river. Allow your lawn to go brown. It won’t die; it just goes dormant until the rains start again. Mother Nature gave grass the ability to do that.

Of you live in rural areas, be considerate of all other residents, both two- and four-legged, and their water needs.

Don’t waste water.

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