After months of no rain, a muddy feedlot is a joy to behold. Few sights are more welcome in southern Montana than that of overcast skies, mud puddles, and the resulting greening of pastures and fields. Ranchers’ smiles are more relaxed, moms aren’t quite as upset when you track mud in on your boots (this will not last), and that tight knot of worry between people’s eyebrows begins to dissipate. So when Melissa sent me this photo this morning, I felt a welcome smile and an easing in my chest.

Rain!

Rain!

Can so much good come from a single storm? Without a doubt, yes, because rain is hopeful, a promise of good things that might yet come. It is a last-minute save of winter wheat crops, fattening calves, and alfalfa and grass fields that might just yet produce enough hay to get through another winter. It is fields that won’t need as much irrigation, allowing you to save that water for next time–and believe me, there is always a next time. It saves dirt from turning to dust, it saves ranchers from having to decide which of their herds to keep and which to send to town because they cannot afford to feed them.

Whisky is for drinking, but water is to be fought over. And rain? Well, rain is to be thankful for. Let’s just hope that this is the first of many more rain storms to come.