Would That I Could Stop Talking About The Weather

Looking back over old garden photos, I see that we’ve typically got a nice start on fall by this point in the year. Sigh.

With temperatures predicted to be in the 110 range this weekend, it’s a little hard to feel motivated even to go out outside. Then I read something like this in the New York Times and feel worse:

The Texas Department of Agriculture says the record-setting drought that began in October has resulted in a staggering $5.2 billion in losses for rural farm communities, the greatest seasonal loss on record. Cattle ranchers have lost $2 billion, while the hit to the cotton industry is put at about $1.8 billion. That’s just a preliminary estimate of the overall damage and doesn’t include smaller crops like lettuce.

“I’ve been involved in cattle and calf production my entire life, and I have never seen these types of conditions across Texas,” said Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples in an interview. “Texans are suffering through the worst one-year drought on record, and this calamity is just getting worse by the day.”

The hit to rural communities by this year’s drought has been well-documented. Towns like Robert Lee and Llano have slipped at or near the brink. Only a couple of months of water supplies are left in their reservoirs. Many Texas cattle ranchers have sold off most or all of their herds as forage dried to a crisp. Hay prices have nearly tripled…

Every creek is dry, and normally strong rivers have been reduced to pathetic trickles. Cotton, sorghum and wheat crops have been hit badly, and if no rain comes soon, next year’s winter wheat crop will be all but wiped out, too. Source

With Central Texas ranching roots on my daddy’s side, this stuff makes me queasy. The national media has tried to get this story into people’s heads, the kind of suffering that’s taking place here. But let’s face it: most people would rather talk about that Kardashian gals wedding, play Angry Birds, or parse the latest stupid thing uttered by a well-to-do politician.

Worse, some want to spin this tragedy to me as an “a-ha!” moment for climate change and give a smug “See?!?!.” Well, the way I “see” it–the way that I’ve always seen it, climate change is real. We contribute to it because we are part of the biosphere. Period.

In my experience, during a crisis we humans become more focused on the present. That may be why rather than dwelling on nonsense spewed by politicians re: climate change, I’m more concerned about the ancient live oaks that are starting to look like they’ve been dipped in an Arby’s fryer vat. The news here last night reported that one old live oak succumbed to the heat and fell on a house and car. Our “grass” is so crispy that it will cut your feet. Deer are roaming our streets again in search of food. We’ve had a couple of power failures. Small ones, but nerve-rattling nonetheless.

When I was a child, I recall reading a story about the energy required to keep “traditional” homes and yards functioning in places like Arizona. The story was supposed to be about the marvels of human technology. To be honest, all it did was turn me off of living in Arizona because it seemed like too much energy use.

And yet here I sit in an air-conditioned house in Central Texas with an epic drought and heat wave beating down on me using technology to alert the world that we’re being baked alive.

In my darkest moments, I am one angry bird thinking about taking flight.

No, it ain’t feasible, but it’s dang tempting.

Red, White & Grew promotes the victory garden revival and other simple, soulful and earth-friendly endeavors as patriotic acts in an age of uncertainty. Interact with founder Pamela Price on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Thank you. Whether people believe in global warming or not is moot, in my opinion. We are a part of the world, and therefore there IS climate change, and some of it is due to us. Whether our impact via coal and oil etc is huge or minimal, there’s still an impact. If, with our vast brains, we can do something to fix our impact, or change our impact for the better, then we ought to do it. It doesn’t matter if global warming is real, or caused by us, or anything else. It’s just a matter of doing what’s RIGHT.

    One of the things I’m hoping to set up at our new place for next year’s garden is some form of drip irrigation which will run largely from rain water. Because of the way in which our roof peaks, we should be able to gather run-off into 55 gallon barrels which we already happen to have. They’ll be stacked at the side of the house with a pipe coming out of the bottom one nearest to the garden area. A small pump motor will be put on it to assist the gravity feed in pumping the water out to the drip system which I want to put in. We’re hoping to do some top feeding for certain things, but also bottom watering for the majority, thereby avoiding any evaporation loss.

    These might seem like little things, but if we were all doing it, it would make a huge impact. Look at how the traditional Mexican gardens were watered – big bodied, small necked clay jugs buried in the soil near the plants. Water was poured into the jugs, which would then seep water out into the soil without very much evaporation loss. An amazing system created hundreds, perhaps thousands of years ago; a system which we’ve largely lost because of the riches of our water. Well… time to resurrect these ancient systems! 🙂

  2. Oh, I love ollas.

    And I love the sound of your irrigation plan, Allyson.

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

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