The realization that we were probably going to be in for a cold and crazy winter started for me as Lia Guthrie (our publisher) and I had to “make a run for it” in leaving the USA Rice Outlook Conference in early December. We hurriedly packed the car, made sure we had all of our supplies, which included blankets, water, snacks and kitty litter in case we got stuck. It was lightly snowing as we left St. Louis, but we had heard that the weather was getting worse further south. We really didn’t know what to expect. Guess what? The weather did get worse!
Typically, I think of weather getting a little better the further south you go, but this was not the case. We soon ran into thick ice on the Interstate and whirling ice and snow in the air. The fields we passed looked pretty, but the road was treacherous. Lia was driving and I was texting with Chris Ouzts, the wife of Randy Ouzts, who is the General Manager for Horizon Ag. They were about an hour behind us, so I was telling Chris what we were seeing and describing the car we were driving in the event that they could stop to help us if we slid off in a ditch. I had to describe our car because there already were several unlucky souls already in that predicament. Luckily, we made it back to Memphis OK, although it took us 8 hours and one slippery pit stop to get gas, whereas it usually takes 4 hours.
Since then, if you have watched the news at all, you know that the promise of a terribly cold and brutal winter has come to fruition. And it’s not over yet. Today is January 27, and this morning I saw an email blast from Johnny Saichuk letting everyone know that a rice meeting had been cancelled tomorrow because snow, sleet and icy rain has been forecast for the area. Really??!! In south Louisiana??? And in a later email conversation with LSU AgCenter’s Kurt Guidry, Kurt confirmed it. He said they were expecting to have the same conditions in Baton Rouge. As for myself, I am headed to Stuttgart, Ark., tomorrow to visit with a farmer who will be featured in the February issue of Rice Farming. Won’t give away who it is so everyone can be surprised when the magazine comes out next month. It’s supposed to be TERRIBLY cold tomorrow, so our featured farmer may look like an Eskimo in his photos. I know I will feel like one while I am taking the pictures!
I feel confident that we will make it through the winter because all things eventually pass. I am hoping that Mother Nature will get all of this naughtiness out of her system before the spring rice-growing season begins. Here’s hoping she will “play nice” and allow all of our farmers to get the crop planted early or at least on time. Meanwhile, I will bundle up with layers of clothes and get ready to head to Arkansas tomorrow! If any of you are out and about, stay warm and travel safe!