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Dealing With Drought

| 8/2/2011 12:40:44 AM

Drought is always a hard time for those of us who farm on any level. Whether you pasture chickens or tend to a herd of cattle, whether you have a back yard garden or a market garden, drought is affecting you if you live in the country's mid-section currently being savaged by high temperatures and low to no precipitation.

Our weather went from an unusually cold, wet spring to an unusually hot, dry summer. Its has been dry here since June with just a few small showers to keep the garden going. Dry is one matter, but add record high temperatures and that makes it almost unbearable.

Plants both big and small are suffering 

Ongoing record high temperatures have caused many plants, including tomatoes, peppers and green beans to stop dead in their tracks. In our garden we use a soaker hose sparingly to keep our plants at least hanging on through the drought. We are hoping to keep them healthy through this extreme weather until they can set on more fruit, since many plants won't in high heat. Eventually rain will come and temperatures will drop to average conditions. Outlying trees have also been a problem to our garden this year. During most years this is not an issue, but right now we can see a huge drain on plants within 10-20 feet of the limb-span of oak and hickory trees that grow outside of the garden.

Pasture for the livestock is quickly diminishing as well. The cows are currently grazing in a small field that I was hoping I could save for winter forage. Soon I will have to consider feeding hay, which other farmers in the area have already started doing. This is a risk, since I have a limited amount of hay in which I bought to use for winter feeding. Things could quickly change, though; a long fall with some good precipitation would help grasses to grow and provide good pasture into winter months.

Dependant on weather conditions 

8/19/2011 8:02:52 AM

Here in far Northern Illinois temps. have been running average, but precipitation is extraordinary. Official records showed more than 14 inches of rain for July-a record. The downside is an unimaginable amount of aggressive and hungry mosquitoes. I have NEVER before seen a mosquito problem of this magnitude. The animals refuse to venture out of the barn even during the daylight hours. The weather is insane. It is as if Mother Nature is desperately trying to find an equilibrium.

8/18/2011 5:39:24 PM

We are having the opposite problem. The heat has been bad, but finally, two days ago, it started cooling off and I can now manage with just fans. The problem has been the rain. I guess the only positive is that we are sending a lot of water along the Mississippi to people south of us. It took weeks to find enough dry days for volunteers to help me paint my house. The first attempt (weatherman said dry) ended up with ALL the paint washing off due to two freak storms one hour apart. All my tomato plants are diseased, they have no leaves up to four feet off the ground but lucky the tomatoes are still growing. My raspberries, which I sell at the farmer's market, absorbed so much water, I couldn't sell them. Strangely enough the only things that I managed to grow fine were artichokes and okra (I live in Minnesota). The mosquitoes are worse than ever and we usually have many.

john m_3
8/18/2011 4:49:00 PM

we live in san marcos tx. we have not had a day below 100degs for 6-8 weeks. no rain. none. we have a water tank capacity of 10,000 gals. they went dry in early may. exposed dark soil samples are around 140 degs. we have to use expensive city water to keep our fruit and shade trees alive. no peaches, no plums, a few lemons. no pecans. we are getting cabin fever because you cannot work outside after noon. no cooling winds. there is no end in sight. climatologists are saying the drought here could last ten or more years. texas is becoming a desert.

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