After a thoroughly wet year in 2011, the ground finally dried out this spring. And kept drying out, and kept drying out. In May we went 15 days without rain and watering became a routine. In our situation, it is necessary to have our garden and orchard on a south-facing hillside that dries out relatively quickly. This is not usually a problem in West Virginia, which receives a high average annual rainfall. But this spring, the long periods of time between rains caused the soil to dry out more and more. I watched rain pass us on the north and east.
On June 11th it had been nine days since we had any rain that actually moistened the soil, and rain was at last expected. A lot of it too. However, I also had some urgent time-sensitive jobs that needed to be done at the bee hives in regard to raising queens and caring for new splits. Just as I started opening the first bee hive, it started to sprinkle. If all I was doing was a quick hive check, it would not have been a problem. But I didn’t want to have everything apart and spread out when a heavy shower came through, so I put the lid back on and went to check the weather forecast.
The forecast showed a very high chance of rain, from 80% to 100% at certain points through the morning and afternoon, with practically clear weather between. But when the sprinkle stopped, I decided to run out and do what I could anyway. I worked and worked, finding queens, splitting colonies, carving out queen cells, moving hives… and the rain never came. Before I knew it, it was evening and time for supper. And just as I got inside, it started to rain! And it was a good steady rain too!
But I still needed to give some feed to these new little hives. New splits have no foragers to bring the nectar and pollen to the hungry little larvae, and a little feed goes a long way for them. So after supper I divided the sugar syrup into individual jars. And then the rain quit! I had just enough time before dark to give the food to the hives that needed it. And when I got inside, it began to rain again! Hallelujah!
But that was not the end of the story. Within a two days, the ground was dry again. We continued watering, but we do not have the capability to irrigate our whole orchard and nut grove. The grass crunched under foot. Six days went by.
Finally on May 18 there was a 50% to 60% chance of rain. But as the time drew near, it dwindled to a 25% to 30% chance. This usually meant it would not rain at all. And as the day wore on, the rain did not come. We heard thunder, but thunder is not rain. A dark cloud came, and the dark cloud left. I began to feel desperate. We had read that morning in Psalm 78 about the works of God in caring and providing for His people despite their tempting Him, their forgetfulness, and their sin. “…But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned He is anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath. For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. …So he fed them according to the integrity of His heart: and guided them by the skillfulness of His hands.”
The Lord really used it to turn my heart toward Him. And as I prayed, the rain came! It was a downpour followed by a long steady shower. It moistened the soil only a few inches, but it was what we needed at the time. God is so merciful to look after our temporal needs that matter so little in comparison to our eternal needs. Whether God chooses to sustain our little orchard is up to Him, but there is much more important things He wants us to focus on.
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD” Amos 8:11. The Water is needed by men more desperately than desert sands. Do not be weary in well doing as you work with God to pour His water into the thirsty ground (Isaiah 44:3) – for in due season we shall reap if we faint not! (Galatians 6:9) “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink…” (See John 7:37-39)