Storm Clouds Rollin’ In

We’ve had a very dry and warm winter and spring here. Up until last Sunday, the field corn and soybeans were looking pretty bad, as were the pastures. Harland was hoping the corn would get tall enough to at least cut for silage to feed the cattle as they were running out of grass. Every day we hoped for rain that didn’t come. The corn had grown to about knee high and then stopped. Each day we watched as it turned a whitish-green in the sun and the leaves curled. The soybeans had germinated but then stopped growing too, at about 2 inches high. Every day that passed without rain was one day closer to the corn turning brown and dying.

We had been a month without rain when finally last Sunday, the weather radar showed a storm approaching from the west. But would it reach us? As the afternoon wore on it clouded over. Harland wanted to go west to watch the storm as it built up strength so we hopped into the truck to go storm chasing.

About an hour west, we found ourselves in Winifred, Kansas, one of those towns that used to be a town.

All that’s left is an old bank building,

and a gas station.

As the raindrops began to fall on the dusty ground we jumped back into the truck and drove east out of the rain towards home.

That night I heard the raindrops hitting the roof, and got out of bed to watch them fall and water running down the driveway. We got about an inch of rain, a definite boon to our spirits. In the following days, the corn exploded upwards a couple feet. The beans grew a few inches and the smaller pastures near home began to green up and grow.

And yesterday afternoon, we received yet another inch. The corn has begun to tassel and make ears. What a blessing!

But the summer pasture about an hour south of us where the majority of our cattle herd is spending the summer has yet to receive any rain. The grass is drying up and the spring that provides their water supply is not keeping up with their demand. The herd usually stays at the summer pasture until October, but we may have to bring them home early and feed them in the lot. Our hay crop is about half of normal, so Harland baled the wheat straw after the wheat was harvested, and we’ll use the straw to feed the cattle along with grain and hay. Normally we use wheat straw only as bedding as it has low nutrient content. If we do bring the herd home early, the calves will be pulled off the cows and sold directly instead of waiting until next January. They only weigh about 300 pounds now, about half what they will weigh in January. Since calves are sold by the pound, that means our profit will be cut in half.

We are very grateful for the rain we’ve received so far, and continue to hope for more. But our most pressing need is for rain at the summer pasture.



Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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20 Responses

  1. Alica says:

    Oh my, I’m sorry you’re having such trouble with drought. It’s tough to be at the mercy of the weather. Glad for the rain you’ve had at home, though. It must be such a relief to see the crops growing again!!

    • Suzanne says:

      It’s funny how fast it can turn around. A little over a week ago we thought the corn would surely die, but now it looks much much better. A little rain goes a long way with corn.

  2. Sue, a Florida Farm Girl says:

    Although we’re not on a farm, I surely understand your critical need for rain. I have a brother who farms/ranches and he always has an eye on the weather. Hope you guys get caught up with moisture soon.

  3. Shaun says:

    I will be praying for you guys. I have just a small vegetable garden and have been so pleased with the weather this summer. It didn’t stop to consider it may not be so great for folks out west. Take care.

  4. Carol says:

    I will remember you in my prayers. I grew up on a farm and we were at the mercy of the weather too, so sorry it’s happening at your place. The weather pictures are so beautiful, I could only gasp when I saw them! May God be with you and keep you safe.

  5. Louise S says:

    1. Please show a picture of the corn. 🙂

    2. Prayers being said.

    • Suzanne says:

      Thank you Louise. I didn’t get pics of the corn when it looked really bad- couldn’t bring myself to take pics then.

  6. Kathy says:

    I will be praying for you too. The economy is tough enough without losing half of your income. Glad you at least got rain for your corn and soybeans.

  7. Margel says:

    That “town that used to be a town” was named for my gg grandmother, Winifred Walker by her husband, Isaac Walker. My gr. grandfather, David B. Walker was president of that bank. Love the artistry of the photos. Could I use them on my genealogy blog at some point in the future, with attribution of course, when I post about Winifred?

    • Suzanne says:

      Of course you may use the pics for your genealogy blog. So what started the town? I read it was the railroad coming thru. How big did the downtown get? We only saw the 2 buildings, but assume of course it had more that that. What was the highest the population ever got?
      Thanks Margel!

  8. Margel says:

    I appreciate it. I don’t know much about the town except what I have read. I haven’t lived in Kansas since my parents divorced when I was seven. I have read several versions of how the town was named but the most authentic was in a history of Marshall County Kansas put out by the historical society of Marshall County.

    Here are a couple of articles that I found in the Marysville Advocate archives about the town:

    “Winifred Reaches the Century Mark”

    “Winifred School Days”

    Isaac Walker was the brother-in-law of A.G. Barrett who started the town of Barrett, Kansas, another ghost town. They came from Ohio in 1851 and were staunch abolitionists of Quaker background.

    • Suzanne says:

      Thanks for the links. We love history, but weren’t able to find anything about Winifred before. Thank you again!

  9. Tina says:

    Because I live in the desert southwest I know about not getting enough rainfall and feel your pain. But my very livelihood doesn’t depend on it. My thoughts and prayers are with you and all your neighbors. I love pictures of clouds and take them all the time but yours are the best! Wow what a pretty storm. Glad you got some rain.

  10. Bob says:

    Hi Suzanne, we’ ve been out of state for over a week. Hope you guys got more rain since this was written. I came back to both rain guages full ( @ 5 inches ) so know we got some at least. Garden overgrown with out best growing crop…
    There’s no place like home !

    • Suzanne says:

      Thanks Bob, we got an inch on Saturday, so the crops are looking good for now. No more rain at the summer pasture though. Boo.

  11. Conrad D. Dalquest says:

    Just found this site as I sit in Jail. (I’m a Detention Officer) Enjoyed Winifred, as that’s my Grandfathers Grocery Store. Have many found memories of that building and that town. Thanks for sharing. From the Great State of Texas…Conrad

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