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Some areas of western Minnesota saw up to 7 inches of rain

Rachel Gray's farm near Blackduck, Minn., received 5 inches of rain over the weekend. (Submitted photo)

BLACKDUCK, Minn.—Northwest Minnesota rancher Rachel Gray suffered through drought last summer. She promised herself then that "I'll never complain again about getting rain."

So Gray was philosophical after receiving a 5-inch deluge over the weekend that complicated her family's cow-calf operation near Blackduck, Minn.

"It's more (rain) than we wanted, but we know this is better than not getting enough," she said

The Blackduck area was among parts of the Upper Midwest that received heavy rains in recent days.

Parts of western Minnesota were hit with 6 to 7 inches Saturday, June 16. Parts of eastern North Dakota were hit, too.

Reflecting that, the Red River, which forms the border between Minnesota and North Dakota, is expected to crest above flood stage at 18.8 feet Tuesday, June 19, in Fargo, N.D., according to the National Weather Service.

Heavy rains in places also swelled some rivers that flow into the Red.

Northeast Minnesota was hammered, as well, with some places receiving more than a half-foot of precipitation over the weekend.

The heavy rains were localized, however. The North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network, which has reporting stations across North Dakota, western Minnesota and northeast Montana, shows that most of the region received modest rainfall, or none at all, in recent days.

But parts of southwest North Dakota and northwest South Dakota received 1 to 2 inches. Much of that area is still recovering from drought, so the new recent moisture was welcome.

Gray says her ranch had been in fairly good shape for moisture. In recent weeks, "We got half an inch here, an inch there. We were doing OK," though another 1 to 2 inches would have been fine.

But the 5 inches, which began falling late Friday, June 15, and ended Sunday, June 17, was too much. Gray's rain gauge measures up to 5 inches; she emptied it when it was full and beginning to overflow. She estimates another quarter-inch fell after that.

Whatever the final amount, the rain has affected the ranch, which utilizes intensive rotational grazing, or the practice of frequently moving cattle between pastures. Several creeks swelled to the point that getting cattle to cross them is difficult.

"Cattle in northwest Minnesota don't swim so well," she says.

The rain also will hamper haying, Gray says.

But she stresses that neighboring grain and soybean farmers are hurt more by the heavy rain, and that too much rain is better than too little.

"Things could be a lot worse," she says.

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