Thursday, August 23, 2007

No news is bad news, weather-wise

With all the excitement of the hurricanes and tropical storms, the extreme heat and drought occurring in the southeast is not receiving much media attention, but it is taking ALL the attention of the residents here.
It is extreme. REALLY extreme.
Our normal average annual rainfall is 54". We ended 2005 with 7 inches behind, then we ended 2006 10 inches behind normal (that's 17, in case you weren't counting) We are currently 13 inches behind on our normal rainfall to this date, for this year. That's 30 inches, if you count cumulative falling behind. Which I do, because my spring, which has historically never run dry, is.
Springs, wells, pastures, creek...all dried up. Flailing fish have turned into dessicated mummies in the heat..Heat? Oh yea.
Our average daytime temperature for August is low to mid 80's. We are going on three weeks at above 100. Above 100. (I had to repeat that, because that is what it feels like, day after day, redundant, dull, aching heat) and even longer if you count above 90 degrees.

As farmers, we were pretty much screwed out of decent first hay cutting and good pasture with the bizarre late freeze that occurred late in the spring. But then it turned off dry and hot.

What are you supposed to do with your livestock when the pasture is bare and brown and scorched and you don't have any hay for this winter, much less right now? Or even if you do have some little green stuff for them to munch, you have no water and they quite selling it in town for livestock, because they are saving it for people.

To understand the impact, you have to picture yourself without water to flush the toilet, or water the cows, or even take a decent shower. Residents on city water in our county are on water restriction, with water police out to bust you if you don't conserve, as the town's water supply dwindles down to nothing. But if you are not on city water, and you rely on your trusty well or spring, that for generations uninterrupted supplied water...well, you're out of luck.

This spring, I got a premonition and obsession to build a little pond to act as a reservoir for my spring in case the weather turned off even dryer than they were predicting. I got a used 15ft by 30ft pool liner off of Craigslist and rented a little trackhoe from in town and I was off to the races.

This little pond oasis and its development have kept me occupied and exhausted, and now, it is keeping me in toilet flushing water, livestock water and shower water as I save what little is left in the actual spring reservoir for dishes. This means alot of hauling of water, drinking water in jugs from town, and water dipped from the pond to water the mules, rabbits, chickens dogs and cat, water for the toilet, etc, until I get the pumping plumbing situation worked out...but maybe by then it will rain...they are saying "not likely, till september." I use all the water twice, whenever possible.

The little pond has been good for a cooling dip, and good for the holler's wild critters to have a place to drink, too.

Meantime, trying to focus on the positive gets harder as the hardships of farm neighbors mount and worries about where my own mules will end up because I can't find hay for them for the winter. It is also damn hard to get and stay motivated to get any work done when the temperatures stay above 100. My workshop tops out each day at about 107, and so I have to do all my shop work after dark, and I am not a night person.

I am getting some great frog pictures, however! and learning up close and personal frog and dragonfly habits.


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