By Albert Makendenge
Some might agree that farming is a lot like a 100 meter sprint and one always wants to get a good start, a good head start. Not just a good start but a strong run and a strong finish. A good start and finish demands preparation, lots of preparation and anticipation. Anticipating the coming of the rains and below are some traditional ways that farmers can use to predict the rain.
One major sign that farmers can look out for is lightning and thunder. Frequent thunderstorm activity (especially afternoon and evening thunderstorms – both light and heavy) over a wide area of the country are strong indication that the hot and dry months are over and the rains will soon be coming down.
Cloud size, shape and type is also another way that farmers can use to figure whether it is going to rain or not. Mammatus (udder-like or breast-like) clouds which have puffy, cellular pattern of pouches, often turn into thunderstorms whilst cirrus (detached, hair-like) clouds, which are wispy and stingy, typically mean storms or rain are to follow.
Animal behavior also provides insights into the weather. For instance, cats are known to wash behind their ears, sneeze or snore when it is sure to rain. Dogs eat grass, oxen sniff the air and swine are restless. Frogs croak loudly, sheep huddle up and crickets chirp more frequently.
Whilst some people may be used to these traditional ways and rely on them to predict the onset of the rains, times have changed and better methods have since been discovered. Not to discredit or to totally disregard these but at vaMudhumeni we always advise you to utilize all resources to help you make more informed decisions. This includes utilizing weather forecasts from more reliable and trusted sources like the Meteorological Services Department of the country. In the vaMudhumeni WhatsApp groups, we have regular weather updates as well.
As a farmer its always a good idea to use a combination of both traditional and more modern tools in your farming practise. It can just be what the farmer needs to prepare and make for that good start to the season.