California dreaming?

In Focus, commentary by Andrew Tripp, May 14 issue.

I had a conversation with a neighbouring rancher the other day, and, as we often do when he drops by, we talked about the weather.

I asked him if the dry spell we are experiencing was normal, and he replied that it was not that unusual. However, it was his next statement that I found somewhat alarming. “If we don’t get a fair bit of rain in June, we may be in trouble,” he said.

I turned sheepishly to look at my own pasture, which was shorter than it should be at this time of year, and still not ready for the woolly creatures to graze, and shook my head. We do not have an irrigation system, relying solely on Mother Nature to do her job and provide us with lush green grass by the middle of May, yet here we are approaching month’s end with the prospect of having to either continue feeding our flock hay, or sell a number of our sheep to lessen the burden on our fields.

California has been in a state of drought for three years now, with little or no sign of relief on the way. Could B.C. be headed for the same scenario?  Possibly. With a significantly lower snow pack this year, and another forecast for next winter, what does the future hold for a region reliant upon that snow pack as well as an abundance of spring rainfall?

While there has been some precipitation of late, it may not to be enough to support those farms, both large and small that do not use irrigation.

The province’s Wildfire Management Branch has predicted a nasty wildfire season due to dry, hot conditions, and Environment Canada supports that prediction with their weather model for summer 2015. Temperatures are expected to be higher than normal, with below-normal precipitation.

Let’s hope both are wrong!

The Rock Creek Fall Fair will see significant improvements this year in the areas of fair entry and fee collection.

When I volunteered at the gate several years ago, I was amazed by the antiquity of the system. Money collectors would simply take the cash, stuff it in a metal box, and every hour or so somebody would appear to transfer the wads of $10 and $20 bills to a plastic envelope, which would then be whisked away to a secure location somewhere on the grounds.

The system was obviously flawed and in need of improvement, and this year visitors entering the fair through the main entrance will do so through four brand new wickets all equipped with cash registers. Organizers are also hoping to equip the campground entrance in the same fashion.

Pierre Sinclaire is the new entertainment director, and has included a talent competition in this year’s lineup. Audition forms can be found at rockcreekfallfair.ca.

Facelifts inside the grounds include reconstruction of the shade shelter, which was destroyed during a windstorm, and the booth facades will be sanded and repainted by volunteers.

Hats off to all of the people who work throughout the year to put together this iconic Boundary event!

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