Monday, July 16, 2012

carrying on

We are officially in a drought here in southwestern Wisconsin.
We had rain last weekend, a tad less than a quarter of an inch. There was thunder as well, which I always find a pleasant part of rain. But that is all, for weeks now. My "lawn" in many areas  is dust under my feet. I'm hard pressed to find green areas to cut and collect with the walk behind mower to put down for mulch in the vegetable and fruit beds. The days have continued in the high 80s, 90s, and even 100 degrees. Nights, thankfully, cool enough to open the house and bring the inside temperatures down in preparation for the next day. Only one night so far has been noticeably uncomfortable, and I am finding the grace to be able to cope with the dispiriting daily routine.

Water, thank God for water. The need to water is constant. I am eternally grateful for a deep well, although I often wonder if the wilting vegetables are completely happy with the 45-50 degree well water when they'd much prefer a shower of air/cloud temperature rain.  I am grateful that I have a small enough area to protect and can do so alone with vigilance. I don't need to grow and harvest enough foodstuffs to last me through the winter as my Amish friends do. I don't need to bring to market and thus earn enough to pay my bills. If my crops fail I do not go hungry nor do I face losing my land. People here are advertising their beef for sale early to avoid buying costly feed which they'd have to purchase from a distance. But for me losses would be a disappointment, a setback, to lose the efforts of these first two seasons, but not a devastation.

This unprecedented early spring caused plants to wake up dangerously early. Then the cold in April hit as much was vulnerable and in bloom. One of the most popular local orchards will have no apples this fall. Berries all over the region are shriveling: blueberries, raspberries, and now the blackberries. The area corn is in tassel way too early. Too hot, too dry, too long. How are my neighbors coping? How are the birds, mammals? The chickens devour anything with moisture: kale, fruit, vegetable scraps. There are birds constantly at my liquid feeders, water baths, the hose trickling on the orchard trees.

Unassisted, Mother Nature carries on. The septic mound, the meadow, and the roadsides are thick with Queen Anne's Lace, little clusters of wild daisies, and the quintessential summer blooming orange day lilies. Chicory and clover and milkweed are all in glorious abundance. Daily I find toads and tree frogs in the garden and on the porches among my potted plants. I've seen more wildlife in the past few weeks than I have since I've been here.

I keep this little figure close by to remind me that it will get cooler. It will rain again. There will be another season.


  1. I really feel for you and your neighbors, Sharon. As you say, those who depend upon their crops for survival are most in peril, but I know how disappointing it would be for you to lose the fruits of all your hard work. It is good for those of us who live in less threatened areas to be aware of what others are going through, especially by way of a personal testimony like yours.
    Hoping for rain and cooler weather for your area,

  2. Your concerns really came home to me last night Sharon as the USA drought was reported on the International news. They showed the blackened corn crops and farmers were saying that they had to sell their cattle and possibly go out of business. In the UK it has been wet and grey for such a long time that I feel we are under a cloud of nuclear fallout!!! I have woken to a bright day with a blue sky and the elusive sun. I hope that I can will some much needed rain your way. Nothing lasts forever and the drought will surely pass. Take care.

  3. A woman at my work puts a T-shirt in the freezer every morning and then wears it in the afternoon as a treat! I have yet to try it here in CO but with no AC I'm tempted to give myself the afternoon break from the heat.

    Beautiful garden I can't wait what else you accomplish in this drought.