This post was originally published April 2nd, 2018 as part of the Farm Oddities segment. The story has been revised for quality purposes because we felt like it and is now a part of Texas Tales and Trails. Deal with it.
I have done my fair share of travelling, though mostly it was within my home state of Texas. Being so large, you can drive for a full twelve hours, cross multiple different types of land and country, and still be in the Lone Star State. I should know, I’ve done it. South Texas is humid while West Texas is arid. North Texas is flat and East Texas has trees. I’ve meandered about in all corners and found the beauty and interesting things each one has to offer. Though it took serious effort, I’ve even enjoyed Austin once or twice.
One thing that the whole state has in abundance is farming. I use that term loosely as it encompasses all forms of agriculture. Sometimes habits are just hard to break. Plowing the fields? Farming. Working the cows? Farming. Pecan orchard? Farming. Farming? Farming. You get the idea. With a state full of farming, there’s quite the need for rain.
When rain is a driving force, people tend to get pretty excited about the wet stuff. One of the first times I went to church outside of Polish Farming Country, I remember thinking that these city people were doing it wrong because they didn’t pray for rain.
One day while taking the farm to market roads through the countryside, my trusty copilot for the day hit me with some knowledge. We had just passed by a pasture littered with ground beef. No, not raw burgers, that would be odd enough for a story all its own. What we had come across was a herd of cows ruminating in the sunshine; laying down taking an OSHA mandated break.
See what I did there? Ground beef?
“It’s gonna rain today,” my wise and all-knowing mother told me.
Stealing a glance upward, I lamented not putting sunglasses on as I stared straight into a sunny and cloudless sky. “How do you figure?” I asked trying not to let the hindered vision take us off the road.
“Cows are laying down. Your Papo always said that meant rain. It’s an old wive’s tale.”
As I lowered the sun visor and tipped my cap brim down low, I smiled and nodded while I thoroughly discounted the sage wisdom. Fast forward a few hours and an attempted nap in my recliner Bertha, Mom casually comes by and tips the chair forward with a smug, “I told you so.”
Lo and behold, the bottom had fallen out and the flood gates had opened. I had to scurry along and through on some shoes because I had left the windows down on the old farm truck. Whether by coincidence or weather forecasting cattle, the score read: Passed down wisdom – 1, my generation – 0.
What did all of this mean? Seven out of ten cows snoozing means 70% chance of rain? Are Herefords heralds of descending droplets? I can’t answer those questions, but it can’t be any less accurate than actual weather forecasts.