View From The Ridge

View From The Ridge

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"How high's the water, Mama?"

Grande Ronde River flooding Hilgard Park (La Grande Observer Photo)
We have all heard the reports of the Mississippi flooding this spring and the hundreds of thousands of acres of farm ground that has been lost to water.   Contrast that with the drought being experienced in West Texas and the thousands of acres of range land that is being burned by fires.   Here on the West Coast, we are experiencing above normal rain fall and record and near record  snow packs in most mountain areas of Oregon.  

La Grande sale yard (La Grande Observer Photo)
So when our valley received 2.5 to 3 inches of rain on a weekend, it didn't make the major headlines.  I know that you all back in the mid-west can get that much in half a day, but for us, that's more than a month's worth.  Our valley is surrounded by mountains with deep snow pack, so when we get those kinds of rain, coupled with snow runoff, it all flows down hill into what few rivers we have.  

This and following photos by Mike Query
Our main river is the Grande Ronde, hardly comparable to the Mississippi, Columbia or Snake river systems.  It's flood stage is a mere 6.6 ft.  The record flood level is 7.1 feet, but on that weekend of mid May, it crested to a record 7.7 feet.  There are about 40,000 acres in our valley with over 5,000 acres of farm ground under water.  That doesn't take into account the number of acres that are still too wet for farmers to be able to work the ground for spring planting due to the above normal rainfall. 
Most farmers living along the river have built dikes or levies to keep the river at bay, but this year the water was so deep it flowed over and around them.    
                                                                                  To say that this has impacted many families is an understatement.  One family is our friends Russ and Tracy.  He is the manager of the local Ford New Holland dealership.  He also runs a small herd of cattle on the side.  He has a small place outside of La Grande where he winters the cows and then leases pasture during the rest of the year.  He lives near the sale yard, pictured in the second picture, and has been fighting high water all spring.  His cows had been forced into the corral, the only high spot on his place.  

 A couple of weekends ago, they were out visiting us and asked what we were going to do with our pasture this year.  In the past we have rented it out for cows but last year because we were so late in getting home due to my health issues we weren't able.  We hadn't planned on doing it this year because I have one fence that needs to be replaced and wasn't sure if I was going to be able to do it.  But then God has His agenda and we had better be willing to adjust. 

That's when Russ told me about his dilemma and how he had arranged for pasture this year but it was now under three feet of water. I told him that he could put his cows in the pasture by the house and that would give me time to rebuild the fence where we could put them next.  He tried to convince me that I could make more money with hay, due to the number of hay fields under water, but I told him that I couldn't care less about the little difference in money.  The bottom line was he had a need and I had the solution.  That, my friends, is what Christianity is all about.  Each one of us meeting the needs of those around us as best we can, sacrificing what might be more profitable or convenient to meet someone else's needs.   

I am sure Russ and Tracy had been much in prayer about their situation, and God promises to meet our every need,  not necessarily our wants, but our needs. 
Luke 12:24  Look at the crows: they don't plant seeds or gather a harvest; they don't have storage rooms or barns; God feeds them! You are worth so much more than birds!(GNB)

So stay alert for those opportunities where God can use you to meet some one's need.  Be an answer to their prayers.  God will truly bless you for your faithfulness.  Guaranteed!  

 As for the cows, they are happy campers, belly deep in green grass, all 21 of them.

"How high's the water, Mama?  Three feet high and rising."  Johnny Cash