Friday, April 28, 2017
Slow moving water
Once again I have to say how great it is that you readers have chipped in with both moral and financial support for my little cousin Elisa and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Your thoughts and prayers and encouragement and dollars mean more to me than you'll ever know.
Over at the Chant this morning Sarge had a great post about nature and bunnies. Who doesn't love bunnies?
I suspect that the little bunnies featured in his post were New England cottontails, (Sylvilagus transitionalis). I base that guess more on location than anything; cottontail rabbits are ubiquitous and the ones Sarge adopted (heh) could be another species entirely.
As I was out and about this morning I came across a Black Tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus). He (she?) looked even more forlorn than Sarge's abandoned bunnies.
Jackrabbits are hares, rather than rabbits, but that's rather splitting a hare.
What? The white stuff?
Over the last week we've had roughly an inch of rain from a couple of fairly slowly moving weather fronts. This morning the second of those fronts is moving out, but it's being rear-ended by the follow-on front, which features colder air and more moisture. If the weather guessers are reading their chicken guts correctly, we'll have more snow today and tomorrow, followed by a slight sunshiny warming trend, followed by more rain.
All this is to the good, even the snow, for it puts moisture into the ground where the plants can use it.
In many ways, spring snow is even better than spring rain. For one thing, it's very nearly liquid to begin with. You can think of it as very slowly moving water that sticks in place and doesn't run downhill. As it slowly melts the soil can absorb all of the liquid rather than shed what it can't immediately swallow.
As you might imagine, it's the quantity of water that soaks into the soil that's really important. Much more important than the quantity that falls from the sky. You can think of it like this. We average about 16 inches of liquid precipitation (rain+melted snow) annually here, and that's just about the right quantity to make all the plants grow properly. But if we get 16 inches of rain in one storm, and none for the rest of the year, we're hosed. Most of that 16 inches would run downhill, and only a little would actually soak in to be used by the plants.
I'm like everybody else around here, obsessed with the quantity of rain that falls. It's what we can most easily measure. So I feel great when we get an inch of rain, and better when we get two inches, and I'm ecstatic when we get six inches. Even though it's better to get a bunch of little rain storms rather than a few big ones. I never claimed to be the sharpest crayon in the cracker box.
Of course my explanation of what is "best" when it comes to rainfall is based entirely on my own personal desire to have abundant soil moisture so the prairie will grow abundant grass. Then my cows eat the grass and turn it into baby calves that I can trade for cash to support my various addictions. Especially the shooting addiction.
But nature doesn't give a hoot about what I want. And gully-washers are important to her scheme too. Gully-washers fill the playas and allow the great plains toads to come out, breed, and have lives.
So anyway, I'm happy with today's snow. Except for one thing. Last night a cow had a calf, and today this has been as close as I could get to the pair.
She's a cagey one, that cow!
The rest of the cows and calves are completely unimpressed with the rain and snow. It's just another day in cow world.