I think everyone is aware of the awful heat the country experienced over the last several days. We are now told it will likely continue into next week and resemble the conditions that produced the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Uh-huh. That is precisely NOT what a farmer wants to hear as he or she looks out upon stunted soybean plants, crunchy brown pasture, dwarfed feed corn, droopy sweet corn, and wilted garden produce. It might be different if we grew cacti for market.
Mike had to open-up one pasture this week that he originally intended for winter hay. The other pastures are so dry there is little for the cattle to eat. We noticed a large increase in cattle sales reported at a nearby stockyard, so we are obviously not the only ones hit by the drought. He found some hay for sale and bought about 80 rolls at a bargain price…only about $1200 out of pocket…and he jumped at the chance because if the drought continues, he expects the price to sky rocket. We are also considering selling off some of the lesser valued cattle to cut food consumption. That means Spot, Brahma Mama, Pip and the Painted Ladies may be moving on to (hopefully) greener pastures. Of course, Pip and the Painteds will not bring much due to their small size and large appetites.
We had to feed the young calves hay, along with their feed, rather than the nice green clover they were becoming accustomed to. They are not thrilled with it and gladly come to me in a near-stampede to get any small morsels of clover I find and pass across the electric fence. They do not even mind the 105F temperatures baking down on them while they munch. Mike noticed that the Charolais seem not to care about the heat, while the Angus tend to gather in the shade of the run in. He has been refilling water tanks three or four times per day, when normally he refills them every couple of days, so clearly the heat is dehydrating them a little.
Like the cattle, the three dogs seem to prefer the shade…the one inside with the air conditioning. It is hard to get them outside for potty breaks until evening when the sun begins to go down. Yep, we have the dog days of summer about two months early. The city girl in me would love, love, love a swimming pool right about now! We might wish we had one filled and waiting should water rationing be reinstated. In the meantime, we stay out of the heat as much as possible. Mike did fill his 200 gallon water tank six times and water the produce garden so we did not lose the produce scheduled for the local restaurant. After all, we got our foot in the door with them last year because their purveyor failed to show up with the summer squash he promised. Drought or not, we need to keep our word as far as possible, even if it means paying city water rates because the creek ran dry.
In fact, the creek bed is almost dry except in the deepest parts, but at least there is water available for the wild life. We have not seen our usual herd of deer, but a flock of turkeys with their young chicks still make forays into the yard. I think the dogs are just too hot to care. Even when a wild rabbit came up into the yard last evening and sat and stared at the house, they could not be bothered to move out of their respective cool spots to notice.
The raccoon that stole a large plastic food bowl and its contents off the deck a few days ago has not been around either. I suspect, he is munching the cat food from it like popcorn, from the shady shelter of his own abode. I can see it now, cradled in his left arm as he reaches into it with his right. Sure wish he would bring the bowl back. It was a good one, an extra large, heavy dog food bowl. Raccoons are little thieves, a fact I noticed since moving to the country. Little wonder so many despise their cute little fuzzy, bandit marked selves. Remember last year, when Mike planted a full acre of sweet corn and we only got four ears? A neighbor reported they already destroyed over one hundred watermelons from their farm. Yeah…that’s raccoons for you! Poor things probably won’t get any corn this year, the drought took it toll on the plants. Gee, maybe they will move elsewhere, ya think?
So here we are, stuck in the house due to the heat (except for Mike’s usual and necessary chores), we and three dogs. Too much land to water, no water in the creek to pump, brown crunchy pastures and over-heated cattle who seem to delight in making their own swimming pool from their urine and standing in it to keep cool. The urine pool makes for a smelly invitation for all sorts of flies that Mike has to deal with. That alone begs the question, why is it that cows will stand in the rain to eat, but freak out if sprayed with any sort of liquid? In any case, I am wishing they had a small shallow pond near their run in to stand, instead of the pool they “built” inside the shed. As Bill Cosby once said in his story of Noah, “Who’s gonna clean up that mess?!”
So before you think that all I do is complain, let me add.,, This morning we woke up to somewhat cooler temperatures and the sound of thunder. We go absolutely no rain, but it will be a balmy 98F today as the result of the brief cloud cover. We will take it! It might even been a good day for a cook out in the shade of the wild cherry trees next to the house. Maybe I will fill Eddie’s pool for the dogs to romp in. Or maybe, we will do what we have done for the past several days and just vegetate in the living room with the slight breeze of the air conditioner and be thankful every minute that we have not lost the electrical power.