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Surviving A Drought on the Farm

We have been here before. It wasn’t that long ago. Our son’s wedding was fast approaching, and our newly dug pond had no water. It took months and we went through so much to get it dug. Excavators were getting stuck along with skid steers trying to dig our pond. It was such an ordeal and I wont even go into everything we went through as this blog isn’t about that. The wedding day came, and we had an almost full pond. It was enough to have the wedding and it was beautiful. So here we are again with record heat and no sign of rain. I am not worried if the pond will fill in time for a wedding, but I am afraid we will lose our bass and catfish as the pond daily evaporates. We have lost a Guinea from what we expect was heat stroke. We have lost a bunny during the night for no good reason. We lost a chicken who was in the shade, under the misters and in front of the swamp cooler. I am fighting daily to keep everyone alive. Fresh cold water for everyone. Frozen bottles of water and ice packs in their water. Misting systems and a swamp cooler running 24/7. Electrolytes in the water and baking soda to regulate their PH. Egg production down 80% or more.

I check on everyone constantly on the security cameras. If I see anyone laying down and not moving my heart skips a beat or three! I call out to them on the cameras praying they move. They do and then I am able to breathe. Since Jaspers unexpected death I am always on high alert and worried. My phone rings when I am away from home. My text goes off while I am away from home. My heart stops. My breath is momentarily gone. My mind goes to the worst thoughts. Lately that is for good reason. Because that is what I hear on the other end of the call, the text, bad news. Or like the other morning I am out doing my daily chores and I find Lola dead. She isn’t greeting me like every morning with her precious face. She is still and lifeless. I frantically pull her from her underground bunker she and her sister Mini dug among others. Her stiff body told me she died during the night. WHY? She has lived in that bunker for almost a year. That was the first one she and her sister dug. That was her spot. Mini took up in her own bunker she built later and still hangs out there all day.

I am fearful of what will happen if we don’t get rain soon. We have gone through a drought last year, a freeze this year and now what seems to be a bigger drought this year. I have heard of stories of livestock loss due to droughts. During the drought last year, we had less to lose and it didn’t seem as hard to keep everyone alive. I know everything is cyclical. Everything ebbs and flows. Life has a rhythm. History shows us there will be times of drought and times of rain. Those times will come and go not when we want them to. All we can do is get through them. One thing I have learned since we got his place is, we won’t get what we need when we need it. We will have a mud farm or a dry and desert farm. There is no happy medium.

So, I struggle daily to keep all my critters alive and well. We lose one here and there and it breaks my heart. I mourn their loss and try to get used to it, but I can’t and never will. Now I watch my pond dissipate daily. I watch my critters struggle to stay cool and comfortable with all the measures I can take. I pray daily that we don’t lose another one. My heart can’t take anymore loss.

Because of the drought the ground is so hard we have had to put Woody our Guinea, Lola our bunny and Monica our chicken into the freezer until it rains so we can dig holes to bury them. This isn’t what we wanted but we have no choice. I pray for rain so that they can be laid to rest. That the pond will fill so we don’t lose our fish. So that our grass will turn green and grow again.

When the weather turns on you and you don’t live on a farm it isn’t life threatening. Maybe you have to water your yard a little but if you don’t it’s not going to be life or death. On a farm it can be and for us it has been. We are beginning to see it happen despite everything we have done to prevent it. Now I have to live with that and make peace with it. Life on the farm is a daily struggle. You always have work to do. Livestock depend on you. You depend on the weather whether it be rain or sunny days. Somedays you’re trying to keep the water thawed out. Others you’re trying to keep it cool. Trying to keep shelter from all the weather for all the animals can be daunting.

Today we are facing historic levels. We have had a stretch of 16 days over 100 degrees. For this summer we have had 46 days over 100 degrees. This area has been covered by a heat dome that has inhibited rainfall. We are perpetually hot. We have had 49 heat advisories and 14 excessive warnings since June 1st. From July 9 through 24 we had a 16 day stretch of heat related advisories and warnings. Houston has reported its first heat related death in June and now a second. Foundations are cracking on houses due to no rain. Wildfires are on the rise. Water rationing is in effect in most places as well as burn bans. At this time 69% of Texas is in a moderate to severe drought. Houston hasn’t seen rain since July 6th, and we are not expecting any rain until next week.

So, as you go without rain think about how hard it is for us with livestock to keep alive. Pray for us please. Pray for rain for all that need it and we need it desperately. Pray we all make it through this drought this year with little loss. May rain visit us soon because the alternative is not an option.

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