Our scarecrow shivered during the end of May

New potatoes peeking through fresh snow

Blossoms on a snowy morning

When people live close to the land and even depend on it for the substance of life they become acutely aware of change.  For years Nancy and I have planted our garden in mid May. Not the frail things like tomatoes and peppers, but the early crops like potatoes and peas.  This year was a bit different – the fruit trees had already budded and blossomed.  The potato plants were six inches tall in the garden and the alfalfa had been growing in leaps and bounds over the past month even though it had been wet and unseasonably cold.  Everything was on schedule until a late unexpected snow storm dumped two fresh inches of snow on the ground and the temperatures plummeted to below freezing during the night.  As a result, this year’s fruit will be lost for the second year, the potatoes died back and even some of the alfalfa froze in the field.  It was crazy.

As soon as the snow started to fall I scrambled to get Nancy’s vegetable starts which she had set out to harden for planting back into the greenhouse.   We knew that the spring seems to extend longer year by year, but to get a freezing snowfall a couple of weeks before it is officially summer seemed outlandish.  Talking to my neighbor, Craig Krosch, who has farmed the Timber Butte area for years, he said he is confident that the weather changes here are not just a fluke, but very real. For three years now he has lost dry-land alfalfa to hard frost a month before it was to be harvested. I didn’t even know such a thing could happen, but then I’m a rookie compared to him.

Folks everywhere are denying that “Global Warming” is really happening, not understanding that it will manifest itself in different ways in different regions.  I personally believe that the term “Global Warming” challenges a debate as to if the changes are human caused or naturally caused.  Personally I feel that debate distracts from the fact that the climate is changing and farmers especially are and will be facing grave new challenges.  No one can deny that hurricanes, tornadoes and disastrous flooding are on the increase in both quantity and intensity nationwide for whatever reason. Meteorologists are alerting us that because the Atlantic Ocean waters are the warmest they have been in recorded history they may well cause another bad year for hurricanes in the southern coastal regions.

As human beings we hate to admit that things are changing, especially for the worst.  By nature we hate change and we secretly want everything to stay the same.  The Apostle Paul once wrote about this when he was speaking about the changes that would occur right before the second coming of Christ.  He said, “Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”

I, for one, don’t want to find myself in that camp; I’d rather admit things are changing and try to deal with it as best as I can. Next year we’ll wait a few weeks before we put our garden in.