This is the easiest week of the year to forecast the weather. Rain, of course.
The Trumbull County Fair opens this week. So according to federal law, longstanding tradition and some guy named Murphy, the rains shall pour.
I learned the soggy facts of life when I started showing cows at the Ashtabula County Fair nearly five decades ago when I was only knee-high to a Holstein. It could be just about the most arid summer on record, but when fair week rolled around, it rained.
As I grew up, I discovered this was a truth in just about every county across the country.
It's a fact of science, as evidenced by the laws of thermodynamics.
The third law of thermodynamics is the entropy of a system approaches a constant value as the temperature approaches zero.
This is followed by the fourth law of thermodynamics:
If it's fair week, it's raining.
We set our calendars by it.
It is my personal theory that the sport of ''mudding'' - powering big-wheeled pickup trucks through goopy fields - was invented in fairgrounds parking lots.
It is also where I learned the fifth law of thermodynamics:
When pushing a stuck car out of a mucky fairgrounds parking lot, be one of the kids in the middle of the trunk or tailgate. The kids pushing at the ends, right behind the tires, are gonna get gooped.
No big deal, really. For one, we already were sleeping in barns. Of course, cows like their barns to be a bit cleaner than boys are. So we stood outside for a few minutes and let the latest deluge of rain rinse us off. It worked out quite well.
One of the annoyances of fair week was that the kids showing ducks and geese thought they were so superior to us cattle people. They reined together all the waterfowl in their club and let the birds tow them around the campgrounds, paddling, quacking and honking merrily down the midway stream. The geese and ducks, I mean. The club members giggled and sneered at the rest of the livestock.
Well, I still think the more impressive feat was teaching our cows to row canoes. I never did see a gander with strong enough wings to row a canoe more than a barn length or two. The goats did OK, but the sheep would rather water ski. And no, I don't know why sheep don't shrink when they get wet.
The highlight of every fair was at the horse show ring, where for the steeplechase event, the 4-Hers leaped their steeds out of the water and over the land trap.
This leads to another of my personal theories: County fairs were invented to commemorate the safe passage of Noah's ark with all its stores of livestock.
OK, maybe I made a fact or two up. But when you go to the fair this week, toting your umbrellas, stop by the 4-H barns and ask around. You'll be flooded with stories of soaked and sodden fair weeks past, mud fights in the horse arenas and water balloon fights undertaken just to get dry.
And go prepared. It's fair week. It must be raining. That's just part of the fun.
---- Cole is a little soaked in the head from years of wet fair weeks. Help him dry out at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.