Grain growers in WA’s Mid West have spent a lot of time over the years looking anxiously at the weather to see if and when the rains are coming in May to announce the beginning of winter. A lot has changed in the growing of grain since we were farming back in the fifties, sixties and seventies around Three Springs and Mingenew. Probably, there was more winter rain in those days on average. But I do remember (and the BOM figures will back this up) that it never seemed to rain enough in early May to enable the kids to drive the tractor pulling those two ploughs. So the rains did seem to come late in May in those days. The kids were disappointed as well; it rained just as they had to go back to school! Today’s farmers of course, dry seed using herbicides to control weeds when they come up. Pre-emergent and post-emergent sprays followed by minimum tillage seeding operations. So today, the cropping goes on regardless of whether it has rained or not. However there’s still great anxiety in the dry, looking to the sky. Do those clouds mean rain? We all know that because of satellites, we can see the weather coming a week or so away. Still we look to the skies, hoping there’s a surprise in store? In the old photo of myself I put up here, it shows a time when we grew good crops every year. Although they were much taller than today’s varieties, they yielded less. We farmed on leased sand plain country up the south road out of Mingenew. It was and probably still is, good grain-growing country. They were good days, in the heyday of farming and developing the land for agriculture after World War II. Whether what we did was right or not is still being debated. We were a bit gung-ho in those days, as I am sure older folk will remember. But there was a strong sense of community in farming towns such as Mingenew, Three Springs and all around the Wheatbelt. It was a great time and place to bring up kids. Today, we are facing different challenges on a lot of fronts. Climate, environment, COVID-19. Is there still a strong sense of community? Is it a good time to bring up kids, can we grow enough food for the people of the world to live a reasonable life? I think Australians can overcome all those challenges and build a better world from it. We did well with what we knew then and you can do even better with the knowledge available today. A note of optimism on which to finish — the Bureau of Meteorology’s long-range forecast issued on May 14. “The winter months of June to August are likely to be wetter than average for virtually all of Australia (mostly 65–80 per cent chance in Western Australia, much of the tropical north and areas east of the Great Dividing Range, with chances greater than 80 per cent generally elsewhere)”.