Paul Malchow

Just as it’s not a good idea to drive after having cocktails, it’s not a good idea to write a column right after watching the Democratic candidate’s debate. A tidal wave of thoughts need to be sorted out before putting pen to paper; because ... well, I don’t know what to think.

Set aside for a moment the bludgeoning deja-vu of hearing the same things said in the sixth debate that you heard in the first debate. Let’s face it – there weren’t too many surprises coming out of Des Moines.

But what really gets me going is three of the Big Four DFL candidates have already had extensive careers in government; yet suddenly they will obtain super political powers (if elected president) which will enable them to provide health care for everyone, clean air and global peace.

Where have they been up to this point? Each candidate has an impressive list of accomplishments, to be sure. But under their already substantial guidance, the folks in America’s cheap seats are hurting. And I think the social/economic gap is getting worse.

I heard a report this weekend stating there are 2,153 billionaires in the world. These 2,153 individuals hold more wealth than the “bottom” 4.6 billion people combined – or 60 percent of the earth’s population.

At the risk of sounding like a socialist, I think there are plenty of historical examples of empires collapsing from the failure of the wealthy few to recognize the needs of the many. Google “French Revolution.”

Family farms – especially dairies – keep disappearing while mega-agricultural conglomerates keep getting bigger and bigger. Comments from U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue about getting big or getting out indicate what side of the bread is being buttered. We’re finding out the USDA’s tariff relief payments have been disproportionally distributed … the biggest (and not necessarily the neediest) getting the most.

Much like Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown’s oncoming kick, the debates suck me in every time. (Well, almost every time. There have been a few and I may have missed one.) Before each debate I anticipate some sort of breakthrough – some indication that this election will be different.

I’m not looking for a blockbuster declaration. It wouldn’t have to be big. I just would like to sit up and say, “Yes! By George, you’ve got it!” Any sort of inkling there is a world out there beyond Wall Street and Washington, D.C. would be fine.

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More people like to talk about the weather than politics, so I’ll pass along the 2019 weather summary from the West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris, Minn.

“Wet and cold sums up the weather for 2019,” the report states. “The average annual temperature for 2019 was 39.6 F. This ranks as the 12th lowest average annual temperature recorded in 134 years. The year started with five months of below normal temperatures. Nine months were below average and three were slightly above average.”

As we would expect, January was cold. The Center in Morris recorded a near-record cold of -32 on Jan. 31. And it stayed cold. February ranked fifth for the lowest average temperatures in the last 134 years. The mean temperature for February was 2 F (average, 13.3 F). Also, the center recorded 17.8 inches of snow in February which was the ninth most snow recorded for the month. Cold temperatures and abundant snow continued in March. The mean temperature for March was 6.6 degrees below the average. 

As the calendar turned to April, temperatures were reluctant to budge. Those April showers came down in flakes as snowfall for the month was recorded at 13.3 inches. This is the third-highest amount of snow recorded in April in 134 years. Once the snow finally turned to rain, the rain wouldn’t stop. Above-average precipitation started in May and continued for six months. Five and fifty-three hundredths and 6.64 inches of rain fell in August and September respectively. This was the second-highest precipitation recorded in September.

October was cooler than normal with a mean temperature of 42 F, which is 4.8 degrees below the average. The cool weather brought on – you guessed it – more snow. On Oct. 12 the Center in Morris recorded 2.1 inches of snow breaking a record which was in place since 1898. Killing frost (below 28 F) was recorded on Oct. 14. However, snow and long durations of temperatures below freezing - but above 28 F - caused many plants to be killed before this date.

In 2019, the total growing degree days for May through September was 2221 in comparison to the average of 2352. In 2018 we accumulated 2594 growing degree days.  

The Center reported a total of 34.94 inches of precipitation fell in 2019 which is 10.56 inches above the average and beat the last record set in 1984 (31.10 inches of precipitation). During the growing season of 2019 (April to September), 27.65 inches of rain was recorded. The average is 18.36 inches.

What is in store for 2020? Only time will tell. Hopefully the meteorological and political climate will be more favorable.

Paul Malchow is the managing editor of The Land. He may be reached at editor@TheLandOnline.com.