Friday, June 10, 2011

The Antithesis of Monsoon Season


No, it still hasn't rained here.

I water the garden every day.  Every day.  And still, when I go to pick a weed, the soil seems dry.  The pine trees are suffering.  Their needles are starting to turn brown at the top, even though their roots go deep into the ground.  There is no amount of watering that can save a tree when the earth has dried out seemingly to its core.

My great-grandfather, A.L., made his living off the land.  He had an orchard, and cattle.  It's said that he had the largest herd of Red Poll cattle around this area.  Red Polls are red in color, naturally polled (without horns), known for easy calving, have a docile nature, and do well on poor soils.  The Red Poll is the oldest registered breed of cattle in the United States, coming here from England in 1873.

In order to raise cattle, you need water.  My great-grandfather dug a pond for these purposes.  Called a stock tank, the clay soil here naturally holds water well.  The pictures so far have been the pictures of our walk to that stock tank.  I walked there yesterday.

I was surprised to find this pond completely dry.  You can see hoses on the side of the pond.  In the past year, water had been added, trying keep the pond from drying out, until water became too precious to waste filling a declining pond.

In 2001, this pond (it is no longer used as a stock tank) was enlarged.  It is approximately 12 ft. deep in the middle.  It has never been completely dry since it was enlarged, and only rarely did it go dry prior to that.  The water line should be above the fallen branches, where the top green line starts (approx. 3/4 up the left side of the above photo).  In the photo below, the water line should be at the bottom of the trees on the far side, which is a steep slope.  (The circle of green water plants in the middle of the pond is irrelevant to the natural water line.)

Deer, coyotes, raccoons, and numerous species of wildlife have long come here for water.  Herons would occasionally visit for easy fishing.  No more.  We wonder where these animals are going to get something to drink.

I'm certain we will get rains eventually, and that this pond will again be full, and full of life.  But for now - we can do nothing but wait.


  1. Your words and photos tell a sad story, HolleyGarden, especially in light of all the midwest flooding. I'll be praying for heavenly rain for your region.

  2. yeah, it hasn't rained here either... now a month. Unfortunately, the same thing happened last summer and it didn't rain for more than 3 months... lets hope that this year does not follow suit for the both of us.

  3. Your photos are heart wrenching. I hate to say it but we need a small tropical depression...

  4. Sadness... I feel for the horses and wildlife and for your family...May the weather be more balanced in the days to come.

    Your close-u shot of the cracked ground is actually quite pretty.

  5. So darn sad seeing this. Water is becoming such a precious commodity.

  6. As I write this from NH it's raining. We woke to rain this morning even though the forecast yesterday said it would start in the afternoon. The weather patterns have really messed up the nation with so many places with too much moisture and others with none. Are there watering restrictions in your county? Are you on well water or city water?
    The wild animals must be on the move to find water don't you think.

  7. Sherry - I was really shocked to see this pond go dry. It gets dry here usually every summer, but this year it's been dry all year long. We'll get rain eventually, but it's depressing while in the moment.

    Jess - Last year it was dry, but then we got 8 inches of rain all at once! The problem with this year is, we didn't get any fall or spring rains to speak of. I hate going into the summer months already this dry!

    Tufa Girl - Yes, I hate to wish bad weather on those near the coast, but you are right - that's the only thing that's going to knock this high pressure off us and give us some relief.

    One - I think the cracked ground is interesting, too. Balanced weather is not something we ever get - but it's not usually this off!

    Tina - You are right. It's the one thing we all need!

    Marcia - I know - I hate to complain when others are having much more serious problems with their weather. We are on well water, so no restrictions, but the constant worry in the back of my mind that it could go dry! Yes, the animals are on the move - we see them diverting from their usual patterns, and so many small animals (lizards, snakes, etc) have started coming up to the house. I think they're lured here by the sound of our goldfish pond.

  8. Lured by the sound of the goldfish pond? Is that also accessible to lizards and such?

    Is your irrelevant mid green line maybe your new normal?

    Can you, do you, use grey water? That helps to recharge the deep soil water levels too. Our rose bushes get ten litres of grey water every 4 to 7 days depending on the weather. I'll be doing the rounds on Monday, as we haven't had good rain since Monday before last.

  9. It's been brutal here in South Carolina, too. Survival of the fittest for garden plants: suck it up, or die, unless you are one of the few I can rescue with a hose. Good luck!

  10. Elephant's Eye - The goldfish pond is the concrete one behind our house. I don't think it's really very friendly to things such as lizards, but the fountain runs continually, so the sound draws them to it.

    I hope the mid green line is not our new normal! About 5 ft. higher than that is where I planted some water plants in water a couple of feet deep. (dead now) I think the mid-green line was where the water stood for a few days after our last little sprinkle, before everything started evaporating again.

    As for grey water, oh how I wish we could use it, but we have regulations against that. In fact, there is a regulation that states our septic system must be inspected quarterly to make sure everything is up to the regulations!

    Jim - Good luck to you, too. It really is survival of the fittest. I'm hoping the hose will do until we finally get some rain - which I know we will get - eventually!

  11. I feel your's dreadfully dry. Lake Travis is so low that it's somewhat depressing to drive by it every day. Like you, I know the rains will come but oh how I wish they would hurry.

  12. A stark reminder of what our future might hold if climate change continues. We are blessed with so much water in the mid-Atlantic, but your photos remind me not to take it for granted. So sorry.

  13. Cat - Texas has been horribly hit, all of Texas! Here, Lake Palestine is quite low - not as low as I've seen it before, but still lower than normal. I think what makes this drought so different is the time span. Not just a normal summer drought - with no precipitation to speak of last fall or winter, and no regular spring rains, the problem with this year is we are starting summer with a drought.

    Carolyn - I guess these days if you're not in a drought, or a flood, that's good news!

  14. After the tornadoes in the south I decided to quit my bitching about the incessant rains we've had here in the Pacific Northwest. Your post sealed the deal. Heartbreaking.

  15. The cracked earth is sobering. We, too, have been under the grips of a drought, but yesterday and last night we finally had rain. Today the air is moist and full, and there is some chance for another shower. I hope that you also have had some rain. La Nina is supposedly ending so hopefully normal weather will return for all of us. (Around here, however, I sometimes wonder what normal weather is supposed to be!)

  16. Grace - I know. I hate to complain, when so many others have had it much worse with the flooding and tornadoes. It just gets to you after a while!

    deb - So glad you got some rain! I hope you get more today, and that your plants and the soil drink it all up. Normal weather for us, for summer, is hot and dry! :) It's the dry autumn, winter, and spring that was unusual. At least if we still have a hot and dry summer, maybe fall will return the much needed rain to us.

  17. I am sorry about the pond. It was so heart-breaking to see your photos and I do so hope it will rain soon. i can't help wondering at the mysteries of weather having just read gardenwalkgardentalk's post about too much rain in her area...

  18. Masha - I agree the weather has been very odd this year. I don't know if it's La Nina, gravitational pull, natural fluctuations, or something else, but the weather always gives us something to complain about, be in awe of, and certainly respect its power over us.

  19. Like the others have said, it really is heart-breaking to see. Even though the drought is a "long, slow crisis" instead of a horrible immediate crisis like a tornado, it's still a crisis. I wonder if anyone in the country is having "normal" (ahaha) weather this year?

    I looked at the Red Poll cattle site--are they the same as red Angus, by any chance?

  20. Stacy - I wonder, too, if anyone's having "normal" weather. If they are, they're keeping very quite about it! As for your question about the cattle - great question!

    Red Angus is a red, polled cattle, but there are a lot of differences between them and the Red Poll breed. Red Angus are much heavier, bred basically for the sale of meat. Red Poll cattle, being a 'dual-purpose' breed (meat and dairy) are more of a home farm type cattle. Smaller, supposedly tastes good even when grass fed, and a rich milk that some say have the same qualities of goat milk - less allergic reactions.


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