Post holes instead of rain gauges
May 2, 2014
Rain is kind of a sacred word around here. Sometimes I am afraid to use the word without the proper reverence. You would not want to scare a rain away. Watching the rain soak in today, I am not even certain if I should write about it as there is probably a more deserving rancher somewhere that isn't getting a rain. I wouldn't want to make him feel bad. A hired man that worked for me used to say he wished it wouldn't rain, trying to use reverse physcology on the weather. Hard to tell if that idea worked.
I can't bring myself to put up a rain gauge. There is nothing worse than staring at a dry rain gauge. Last spring a Wyoming rancher placed an advertisment in a newspaper offering to sell his rain gauge which was in like new condition as it had never had any rain in it. A neighbor used to have a rain gauge that did so much better than ours that I accused him of mounting it under the eave of his house. If we got three tenths, he got an inch of rain. The Bureau of Land Management has a fancy solar powered rain gauge next to our fence which has tempted me to spray it with the fire truck.
In Wilfried Thesiger's book, Arabian Sands, he tells about crossing the empty quarter of the Sahara when they came across a place where it had rained. The Arabs he was with got off their camels and dug holes in the ground to see how deep the rain had soaked. In country where rains happen years apart the Arabs knew that eventually something would grow there and make some feed for their livestock. Every time it rains, I am as excited as those Arabs.
Digging a post hole is a best method to size up precipitation. If it's wet all the way to the bottom of the hole, then it was a good rain. If it's dry all the way to the bottom at least you got some work done. Replacing rotted off posts along several miles of fence gives you a transect of sorts. Rain rarely is even as it falls and using the post hole method let's you see that variation over a greater area. You can almost guarantee to be left completely alone as you dig. Rain should always be enjoyed, even if it's pouring down your neck.