Misleading Averages

Averages are just average.  No real magic here.  Averages are descriptive, not predictive, and macro, not micro.  Take enough years worth of weather information and you’ll see a picture of “normal” with the understanding that in any given year there is no normal.  Graph the data, zoom out and it all looks normal.  The bumps along the way smooth out.  The trend appears.  The lie appears.  Those bumps along the way when you’re in your pasture trying to keep livestock alive when it’s 114 and hasn’t rained in weeks?  Those are part of the normal.  But the average rounds them down.

Averages lie.  I enjoyed reading Walt Davis’ book How to Not Go Broke Ranching.  In that he jokes that his part of the world gets an average of 30″ of rainfall but in reality he gets 90″ one year and nothing for another two.

On average we get 3 inches of rain in August.  We got closer to 9 last month (4.5 in 2 hours on Aug. 2nd) with more coming today.  The ponds are full, the creeks are swollen, my gutters runneth over.  Where was this rain in July?

But it will add to the new average.  On average we get 32″ of rain each year.  Sometimes we get more than we can swallow, sometimes we’re in drought.  Heck, last year we went 5 months without rain.  That’s normal.  But the average dictates we SHOULD get about 3″ each month.

I need to find ways to store more water…to sponge it up, to hold it back and to deliver it where it is needed the most.  That way I can survive the normal drought and hold back the normal flood.

There are all kinds of ways to do this.  Keep up with us as we explore our options over the next few decades.

If you don’t find this an interesting problem to solve I would invite you not to become a farmer.  Maybe you should get a nice place on the edge of town.  Maybe get a big lawn mower and a couple of fruit trees and deck/patio surrounding a pool and invite your farmer to come for a swim on a hot day.

I’m in a hurry to get started this morning before the rain returns.  I need to move chickens, pigs and goats then lay out a few more paddocks for the cows so I’ll try to update this with some interesting pictures later when it starts raining.  No promises though.