Last week I got the mower out to clean up some rather odd patches of grass around trees, along the lateral lines, and a large area that had grown up nicely after I forgot to shut off the soaker hoses in my tomato garden and left them running for two days. We were entertaining family that weekend and I got side-tracked while performing too many tasks at one time in preparation for their arrival. The only spots in the yard that were green and in need of a trim, were areas I purposely (and absentmindedly) watered over the past month.
During the spring, I vowed to somehow lessen my watering duties this summer. I had run myself ragged last year trying to keep plants alive. But when the heat hit in mid-June this year, I decided I just could not let our landscaping, trees, berry shrubs, and vegetable gardens, perish in the extreme heat. Consequently, I spent most of the summer dragging hoses around to thirsty plants, just like last year.
While on the mower, I discovered the silver lining to the drought and all the work it took to keep a few things alive around here. I found I quite liked mowing in crazy circles, meandering here and there, going from tree to tree, and all along the line of berry shrubs, hitting only the green patches around the yard. With the rest of the grass dry and crisp from the heat and drought, this kind of mowing took very little time. If there was one thing good about the drought and all this heat, this was it!
The temperatures had elevated to 113° a few times this summer, with the average settling in around the 107° range. Many ponds dried up and watering sources for wildlife became scarce. So, with fresh, cool well water, I filled three bird baths four times a day, and two half-barrel tubs for the larger mammals once every other day. As the drought set in, we began seeing all sorts of wildlife frequenting the feeders and water tubs, but for the most part, squirrels and birds held camp around them all day long. Though this year’s drought and heat was not nearly as bad as 2011, the 2-year stretch of extreme conditions was beginning to take its toll. Trees, shrubs and wildlife were succumbing to the elements.
Daisy deer is no stranger to the heat. Last year, as a little fawn, she dealt with life outdoors in her small deer pen, hiding in the canna plants during the days, and finding shade and comfort in her part of the old chicken barn in the late afternoons and evenings. Being free to roam this year, we often found her resting under a shade tree, or down by the water tub in the woods. She found delight in the water sprinkler during the late afternoons and evenings. I would often set it up under the shade trees near the house where FD and I watched her frolic in the artificial rain, laughing at her attempts to take gulps of the misting water. For me, watching her run and gambol through the spray brought back memories of her younger days, when she did silly jumps and played. Daisy was growing up now, and we didn’t see as much of her playfulness. Water, however, whether it was a shower or a pool of water, always seemed to intrigue her and bring out her playful side.
Considering the unbearable heat, I spent more time indoors this summer, venturing out only to keep the water hoses moving or to do a little work in the storage building. I normally love to sit in the woodlands, photographing the birds and deer, or critters that happen by, but it was sweltering in the bottom land most of the summer. Little air moved down in the canyon this year, and the ticks were an absolute horror. I often came back inside after just a short hour in the wooded bottom, clothes soaked with sweat and my hair in ringlets. No wonder Daisy often came up top too, panting and in search of shade. At least one could feel the breeze blow up here, even though it mostly resembled a blasting inferno of sorts.
As if the heat were not enough, late July and early August brought wildfires. Several areas of Oklahoma were all ablaze at one time. The tinder-dry grass and woodlands gave up to the raging wildfires that burned miles of landscape and acres of land. Many folks lost their homes, out-buildings, and crops to the raging wildfires. Like last year, our immediate area has been fortunate to escape the devastation and remains unscathed thus far. Others were not so lucky.
Recently, an arson-related fire that quickly turned into a massive wildfire, came dangerously near a wildlife sanctuary where FD and I often take birds we are not equipped to care for here. I thought of the evacuation plan they must have in place, and wondered if there would even be time to effectively move the large numbers of animals and birds they care for. Fortunately, the winds changed and the fire moved away from the sanctuary, after coming within 3 miles of the premises.
Around the ten-acre ranch, the summer droned on, much like it did last year – hotter than Hades with that wicked wind blasting me in the face as I worked outdoors. Just like last summer, a statewide burn ban was enforced and I awoke each morning knowing the same chore awaited me – the dreaded watering. I pulled 100 and 200 foot lengths of hose around from sunup to sundown. Even the swimming pool did not offer much comfort after a long day in the sweltering heat. The water temperature had risen from a pleasant 86° to a bath-water warm 96°.
And then suddenly, there seemed a hint of something different in the air. Just as I braced against the frustration of another balmy morning, weathering the hot summer wind, towing those endless water hoses, wiping the sweat from my brow and cursing another day under the blistering sun… I experience the tiniest feeling of change. I notice the delightful twirl of a few falling leaves as the last of the summer flowers make a brilliant display. The cicadas still sing lustily throughout the day, and the great Barred owls hoot long into the night. But the temperatures have cooled just a few degrees, and there are chances of rain in the forecast. With just this slight change, we are content and we have renewed hope.
As it is with many battles and struggles in life when we think we can bear no more, a time of respite arrives, and the spirit renews, welcoming change. The metamorphosis of seasons brings a gentle reminder of our resilience through these challenges and how ever-changing life can be! When we are cognizant of its voice, nature often provides a delicate nudge, prompting us to move on to the next season of our journey.
With showers in the forecast this week, I hear nature’s voice and feel the changing of seasons. My cup is half-full, the rain will fill it the rest of the way, and my time of respite has arrived!
© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…