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2012 The Dry Run

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The barge ride to the island is slow and hot. Moving at five miles per hour doesn't generate much wind flow and I am beginning to feel like I'm riding a frying pan across the Mississippi River. Today we are hauling the pump and tractor, the 4-wheeler, a few willing participants and about 6 Chesapeake Bay Retrievers who seem to be much more motivated to face the day than we are. Clouds are beginning to blacken the west, but no one even makes note of it. Every storm that boils up in Missouri has fizzled out before it reaches the river banks. It hasn't rained in about a month now, in fact, I don't even remember the last rain. But who really takes count of something they don't know will be gone? We all took advantage of the dry spring and planted the beans and corn early. The lack of rain seemed like a blessing back then. Now, at the end of summer, it has been a curse that has had stuck with us almost all season. While the majority of farmers were hit hard enough to have crops burn up or not head out, our area along the river has held water long enough to keep a decent crop. Until now. Too early to harvest and with no rain in sight we have taken to drastic measures. We are going to make our own rain. Our seven pumps have been put in early this year at the club and while they are usually being put to use for the ducks, they are providing some much needed H2O to the crops in the fields. The work has been slow and with the high price of diesel the budget has been stretched. But this is what we do. This is how far we are willing to go to ensure a fun and successful season. Every day during the off season is another opportunity to get ready for that opening day. In February we cursed the low snow fall in the prairie region and were surprised by the record high hatch. But how will that generation fair this fall? Will the drought keep birds flying down the flyways, or will they end up finding those much needed food sources in their pit stops along the way? With a 43 percent increase in the over all average of bird population this year thats going to be a lot of mouths to feed! We are working hard, day and night, to do our part. So here I am today, with the corn and beans watered, I'm migrating to the island to flood our timber holes to jump start our millet crop. Its the last week to get it sprouted to reach maturity by opening day. The pump is in place and the boys are rolling the hose into the ditch that will carry the water to the millet. And as I fire up the tractor and the ditch fills with that blessed water, I look out over the river and see its beginning to rain....." Tim Fanning..

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