dirt blizzard 3dirt blizzard 2dirt blizzard 1Pray for rain. Please.

The road graders rolled out of the county yard early this morning to try to repair the damage. Not a speck of gravel left on the county roads, ranchers’ teeth rattling around the washboard-covered curves this morning as they set out to feed cows, check for calves, and start the neverending task of fixing fence.

The fences are all bearing the load in one way or another. Some lean under an invisible force to the south. Others stand in sand, covered in tumbleweeds, with drifts of dirt from someone’s field or pasture covering them to the top wire. They look like something from the Dust Bowl or the desert or somewhere haunted by ghosts of people who couldn’t bear to stay another day.

The cows are huddled in corrals and pasture corners, trying to avoid the sandblasting winds and occasional metal tank blowing around.

In a house where dirt shows footprints near doorways and sits in measurable piles on windowsills, a farmer watches a cheerful weatherman report less wind today and a beautiful, dry weekend. He loads the dogs and goes to check fields of wheat that have blown smooth with someone else’s topsoil, smothering the young wheat and battering it back into the dry ground.

If it will just rain a few times before June 1, he won’t have to sell the rest of his cows. If it will just rain a few times, that wheat might just come back. If it will just rain a few times, maybe they can keep the place. If the payments from the FSA office would just be released from the sequestration, we might be fine. If that Senate bill doesn’t pass, we’ll be able to pay to keep the pump running. If we don’t lose anymore families from the community, we’ll be able to keep the school open and his wife will still have a job.

It’s the dirty truth in eastern Colorado this year. It’s blown in drifts, stretching fences to their limits, and pummeling baby calves. And it matters.

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