Dick Hunt's Blog

June 18, 2012

Drought and Floods.

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Drought and Floods.
by Dick Hunt, June 18th, 2012.

A story is told about a very serious drought in Scotland some years ago.  A  Presbyterian Minister was so concerned about the lack of rain that he took his Sunday congregation out on the hillside adjacent to the Church and he  prayed with them passionately for life giving rain.  To which they belted out, AMEN.

On Monday morning the clouds rolled in and opened up to release a downpour that within hours was washing away soil, taking away the struggling little crops of grain with it and causing havoc in their midst. The following Sunday, He again took his flock out on the hillside, in the pouring rain, and Prayed, “Lord We have prayed for rain, and ye have in your goodness sent the rain. But Lord, do ye nae ken this is fair ridiculous?”

I recall an incident which occurred in 1936  near where I was born and raised, in which a six year old boy on a farm ran screaming into the house, badly frightened, “because there is water falling down outside”.  At that age, he had never known a drop of rain in that district. We did in fact, in the great mid-west have no significant rain and very little snow for six years.  Gradually, the clouds, which often rolled in previously with monstrous lightning and thunder storms, sometimes all night, and with fierce black clouds, began to release a little rain, and we were able to harvest some crops of grain again.  But along with the increasing harvests we also regularly had vicious wind and hailstorms which pounded our ripening crops into the ground, again causing related problems. Obviously, flood conditions are a constant concern for many people around the Planet.  I have experienced dust storms so thick that in mid afternoon the sun was blotted out. We could hardly open our eyes  for the massive dirt content of the mighty winds and our homes on the prairies were so thick with dust that it took days of cleaning to get rid of the mess.  We used to have a question; “we wonder whose soil we will have tomorrow as ours is being supplanted by that from somewhere to the northwest”.

I do recall with lingering amazement a cloudburst that dumped seven inches of rain on our district in 20 minutes. Roads were washed away, lakes were formed and soil was turned into bogs in short order. I was on the way home from town when the storm hit and had to sit in the car for the duration of the storm as my vision was blotted out.  Arriving home, I discovered that the water had flowed down the sidewalk and into the basement, causing a flood. Where two culverts were sufficient to drain the valley below our buildings in normal flow, year by year,  the water was so copious that it washed across the road for over two hundred feet each side of the culverts and piled up against the railway embankment adjacent, even though their culvert was six feet in diameter.

When Ruth and I were enjoying a guided tour of the great Cathedral in Florence Italy some years ago, it was pointed out to us that though the great historical paintings of leaders of the Church were hung eight feet above the floor, the high water marks on the paintings were still visible at the nine foot level.  The reason?  Indiscriminate logging in the mountains above the city.  Water is essential for all forms of life.  But like fire, also a great blessing, it can be terribly destructive.

When my Father homesteaded in the summer of 1903 in south eastern Alberta he located where a flat topped hill provided a good building site and ever flowing springs of pure water out of the north slope.  Even in the driest years in the 1930’s, the flow of water did not diminish in the smallest degree. It provided water for more than a thousand cattle and all our domestic needs the year round.  Those springs are still flowing, pure and faithful as the Lord is faithful. During our driest years we were able to haul water with a tank on a wagon to water our large garden for food and our extensive tree plantations  for shelter for our buildings and livestock. What a great place that was for a home and a cattle ranch.  The work was hard but the family worked and thrived together. During the depression years, freight trains used to rumble past our home day by day, with hundreds of hungry “hobos” on top of the cars.  Many jumped off the cars and walked the half mile to our home to ask for something to eat. None were ever turned away hungry.  That is where we learned to share.

Being concerned about the environment, the well being of the earth and the life it supports was a large part of our growing up years. We always knew that we  had to be responsible stewards of the land, for both animals and people. To this day, bad weather, poor crops, natural disasters, floods, famines and all other tests of our character and responsibility are much in my consciousness.  With my brothers, I went through disastrous winter storms with many hundreds of cattle and horses to care for  plus concern for the well being of our employees. There was no room for cop-outs.  The responsibility was ours. You can take the boy out of the Ranch.  But you can’t take the Ranch out of the boy.

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