Monday, July 16, 2012

Chief meteorologist for the middle of nowhere, New Mexico

True confession time: I am a weather nerd. I love all things weather. I pay attention to it, I take pictures of it, and I keep track of it. I have a spreadsheet dating back to the day I moved here in October 2005 which lists every drop of precipitation that's fallen on the 7MSN. It's a rancher thing, I suppose. Knowing how much rain and snow falls in winter is a reliable indicator of whether locoweed sprouts in spring. Likewise, knowing how much doesn't fall in spring tells me how much hay I need for summer. And, most importantly, knowing how much rain falls one day lets me know how deep my truck will get stuck in the mud the next day if I try to drive out to the highway.

Anyway, recognizing my nerdiness, a recent visitor to the ranch suggested I look into the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS). Thanks, LeAnn! I checked it out online and instantly knew these were my people. "CoCoRaHS is a grassroots volunteer network of backyard weather observers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation in their local communities...The only requirements to join are an enthusiasm for watching and reporting weather conditions and a desire to learn more about how weather can affect and impact our lives."

I registered and ordered my official rain gauge, which arrived on Saturday. Smooch helped me set it up.

Smooch: Nice gauge. What a waste.

Smooch: Maybe we can use it to measure dust.

Smooch: Seriously, mom, what's the point?
Me: The point is, we'll be able to enter our measurements online 
and provide the data for natural resource, education and research applications.
Smooch: Whatever.

Once we got the gauge mounted to a sturdy post, it was time to place it in an appropriate location. It had to be: 
1) far enough from the house, barn, and trees so as not to skew the amount of rain we collect 
2) close enough to the house so I remember to look at it and report the measurements 
3) in an area where nobody would mess with it. This last one could be tricky.

I ended up placing the gauge in my "sacrifice area" –
the two acres of the ranch which are off limits to equines and home to the hay barn and poop track.

Me: Smooch, I'm sensing you don't share my enthusiam for this project. You seem distracted.

Smooch: Ya think? 

Me: It's one thing for those damned squirrels to be living in the hay barn,
but if they know what's good for them, they'd better not mess with my rain gauge.


  1. I confess I am also a weather nerd! Ever since we lived on our farm and had crops that depended on Mother Nature, I have kept my eye to the sky and also recorded any info for future use.

    I never knew there was such an organization, and I love your rain gauge!

    Seems Smooch has as much enthusiasm as Wally about projects. LOL

  2. This is interesting and sounds like a fun project. You are a busy woman! You have a cute helper and a cute audience. Can't wait for the rain!

  3. Just hoping you get rain to test the gauge but not on the weekends. ;-)
    That's the grocery shopping and other fun activity time. No sticky roads is my wish for you.

  4. I love Smooch comments! Cool rain gauge btw, I may have to order one like that for the hubs. He too loves watching the weather!

  5. How funny! I have the exact same rain gauge (love it) and record every drop on a spreadsheet. I have been doing this for years and am a total weather geek about it. I'm going to check out that link.

  6. Kind of like the traffic report from the middle of the reservation in Smoke Signals :-).

  7. Cool, and perfect timing to boot!

  8. Ummm Carson; I think that squirrel is pregnant!