Weatherford Democrat

Viewpoints

August 6, 2012

COLUMN: Floods, droughts and locust plagues

— I never figured I‘d ever have much in common with the Pharaoh of Egypt who lived a few thousand years ago. As it turns out, I do, because he hated grasshoppers and so do I.

If I correctly remember my Sunday school lessons at the Brock Baptist Church about a half century ago, I believe it was the eighth plague, which consisted of a great swarm of locusts that God sent down on Egypt for enslaving the Israelites. These locusts, or grasshoppers to us old farmers, devoured everything in their path, leaving not a green thing “through all the land of Egypt.” Are you now starting to see the similarity to Parker County?

I’m sure Moses hasn’t had anything to do with this, but in recent decades, it seems that Parker County and the State of Texas as a whole have endured quite a few severe weather and pestilent related phenomena. Droughts, floods, hail, lightning, grasshoppers, feral hogs, West Nile virus, and a host of other unusual and disruptive events or “things” have presented significant challenge to the peaceful tranquility of country living.

I suppose that in actuality such attention demanding events have always been with us. The first that made a huge impact on my life was the epic Drought of the ‘50s. It forever changed the face of Parker County and rural Texas. There was a mass exodus from the farms to the big city — I suppose much akin the Israelites seeking the Promised Land. When the drought finally “broke” in 1957, we suffered great flooding of our rivers. The 1957 flood of the Brazos, along with the heat and drought of 1980, became “events of record” by which others have been measured for years. It’s been years since I considered some of these earlier problems, but we also endured massive sandstorms that would bury our peanut crop in sand dunes making it impossible to harvest. In addition, I saw fields inundated by lakes of standing water, making it likewise impossible to plant in the spring. It would drown those crops that were already growing, with the soil souring and becoming stagnant from too much rainfall.

In the last decade or so, we have again endured some other epic challenges to our Parker County lifestyle. In addition to the agricultural travails, we’ve suffered from a burst of population growth placing a great challenge on our infrastructure. Our roads, schools, medical facilities, and utilities have felt the impact of greatly increased demand. Like the generations before us, we have met each challenge and will continue to do so.

As I mentioned earlier, down here on the poor farm, we are currently experiencing a grasshopper problem of biblical proportions. With our modern smug scientific knowledge, we proclaim to have quite an effective toolset to deal with our Orthopteran interlopers. We have growth regulator hormone sprays and several generations of pesticides and baits to limit their numbers, yet they still deal us quite a large amount of damage. The Pharaoh dealt with the problem differently. He asked Moses to “intreat” the Lord to remove the pestilence. The Lord sent a mighty west wind that blew every last locust into the Red Sea. Man, I’ll bet there were some fat and happy fish there.

Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy Commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to nowhearthis@pwhome.com.

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