Saturday, July 23, 2011

Baby, It's Hot Out There (A Photo Roundup)

100 in the shade - before noon
 It’s hot in North Texas. Record-breaking hot. Just how record-breaking is the subject of intense debate. Did the area officially hit 99 degrees or 100 degrees last Wednesday? If 99, that put a halt to a streak of 100+ degree days that ended with a total of 22. If 100 (for the Fahrenheit challenged, that's about 38 C), then we’re well into our 26th straight day. In either case, the previous record, in 1980, was 20 days in a row.

Some of you may have thought it was hyperbole when I mentioned the possibility of eggs laid in the sun being baked in their shells. That observation was actually extrapolated from crab apples that have ended up being baked through and too hot to handle within just a few hours of falling onto a sunny patch of ground.

In addition, my area was officially listed a couple of days ago as being in a “severe” drought. Drive west for 30 minutes and it becomes an “extreme” drought. 30 more minutes and it’s “extraordinary.” And “extraordinary” is creeping east.

There are still green things growing. But plants that normally put out profuse blooms are struggling to provide photo op moments. Water-loving plants like ragweed and pigweed aren’t growing at all, which is both good and bad. Grass is also water-loving – and there’s none new growing. That means no mid-season haying, which means no second cutting, which means less hay on the market this coming winter. Area farmers will have to import hay from out of state, which means it will come at top price and there may or may not be enough to meet demand. Animals destined for slaughter will go to market early. Non-food animals such as horses owned by people who are also being hard hit by the economy will be neglected and starved.

There’s no rain in the forecast for the next 7 days. Temperatures will be 103 to 105 all week.

And it’s not even August.

This roadrunner has been hanging around a lot lately, coming up on the porch (center) to chow down on grasshoppers (right) and catch a drink from the cat's water bowl.

Still, the price of hay is not what gives me nightmares.

The ground here is prone to moving and cracking even in the best of summers. This puts stress on every structure. House foundations are moving. Walls are settling. Concrete and framework are being undermined. Doors don’t open and close properly. The driveway is separating. These aren’t tiny hairline cracks in the asphalt. The shifting ground is heaving some sections of it upwards and dropping other sections down. The drive is only two years old. I’ll be surprised if it lasts another three.

I’m not losing sleep over that. It’s just tar and oil.

The cracks farther from the house are the ones I’m most concerned about. At 2, 3, even 4 inches wide, some of them have opened enough to trap a small horse’s hoof. These aren’t just surface cracks. Many of them run up to 2 feet deep.

L: 2" lift to the driveway. The edge is basically cracking off.
C: Scooter is concerned the small cracks in the chicken yard may swallow him up. Oh no!
R: Cracks in the pasture -- the pipe on the far right is 2" in diameter.

It wasn’t long ago I loved watching the horses gallop around, kicking up their heels and playing tag. I see them now and my stomach just knots up. Images of snapping bones as the ground catches a leg and won’t let it go prey on me. It isn’t easy being a mom.

My first year retired trying to establish a garden and produce enough hay to keep the horses and goats rolling in it during the winter? Gonna have to call this one a bust. If all the beasties come out the other side alive and well, I’m gonna call it a win and be very, very happy.

Still, A Few Cheerful Flowers

It's hard to keep a good sunflower down. There aren't as many blooms this year, nor are the blooms as big as in previous years, the leaves are rather sparse, and the overall look is rather scraggly. Still, who can't help but smile when they see these little beauties?

Bitterweed is very drought tolerant and will bloom in nearly any conditions. Ranchers, especially those who raise dairy cows and goats, consider it noxious. That's because it imparts a bitter taste to the cow or doe's milk after it's eaten. Animals will eat it, but it's sort of a last-resort plant when nothing else is available.

Once established, trumpet vine is nearly impossible to kill. Here it's blooming happily even though I haven't watered the landscaping at all this summer. Hummingbirds love the trumpets' nectar; this year, though, the local hummingbird population seems to be way down. The long bean-like things are the seed pods. They'll grow to about 8 inches and the shell will become fairly hard and turn a mottled brown in fall. Even though I've gathered 100s of these pods, I've never been able to grow a trumpet vine from seed.

Dogs and Cats Demanded Time In The Spotlight Too



Ginger, the submissive and a natural nuturer, taking good care of Loki, who obviously hates all the attention

How could I not end with Loki, the camera hog who always, always make me laugh


Sarah Laurenson said...

It took mom 20 minutes to mow what's left of her grass - on 5.5 acres. Makes it easier on her work-wise, but really, really bad drought and heat.

Your babies are gorgeous.

Whirlochre said...

That's shockingly hot.

Sounds like you could fry an egg with the breath of a mule.

AA said...

Callie: "OMG, not the camera AGAIN."

Loki: "Hey, is that a camera? Look over here! Aren't I cute?"

fairyhedgehog said...

Wonderful photos.

What a worry with all those cracks. Our local park gets like that most summers but I doubt it has this year!

Wilkins MacQueen said...

And I complain about the heat here? Give my head a shake. 84F/29C current temp. We're in the rainy/monsoon season now so we have cooled off substantially. I start to lose my mind at 34C upwards.

Great critter shots. They all look so content and happy. Love Road Runner! What a charcter.

Phoenix Sullivan said...

@Sarah: And to think they're being inundated with rain in the UK now. As long as it doesn't turn into another Dust Bowl here... Thanks for admiring my babies!

@Whirl: The asphalt is even melting :o(

@AA: Hehe!! Yes, you've got them pegged!

@FHH: I wish the weather would just straighten up all the way around!

@Mac: You've certainly put in YOUR time this year with hot temps and no a/c. I don't take cold well, and inside with a fan on me and the thermostat at 84 can make me reach for a robe.

The road runner IS great. He's visiting almost daily now and I almost got a shot of him yesterday when he jumped up on one of the chairs on the porch. And a rabbit last night stayed fairly close when I was giving the horses a treat. Something's got the wild critters acting brave these days, whether it's the heat or the drought or the phase of the moon ;o)