31 August 2011

Thirsty

During our first summer here, I remarked to Jack how green everything was in Iowa.  Not that my homeland of Nebraska is arid--at least not the east where I'm from--but Iowa seemed like it was saturated with water.  Creeks and rivers snake everywhere and on top of it, it rains plenty and snows even more abundantly.

We've been home now from Jack's co-op for nearly a month and the whole time, I've been praying for rain.  I'm not even sure the last time it even drizzled here.  Our whole acreage was thirsty.

The first thing to go is the grass.  The green retreats, leaving a dull beige everywhere.  The soft, downy feel of the tender summer blades is replaced by a stiff crunch.  It feels like trampling over a miniature forest when I tiptoe barefoot across the yard.  My container garden I'd lovingly grown in Cedar Rapids didn't fend well either.  Evie and I watered it faithfully every day and still the plants shriveled.

A week without rain during a hot spell is uncomfortable.  A month without a drop is a major problem and it was beginning to show.  More than losing the aesthetic appeal of our giant yard, most of our animals depend on green grass as the staple of their diet.  If grass doesn't grow, I have to dip into my precious winter hay supply.  The sparser the pasture got, the harder I prayed.

My animals weren't the only ones suffering either.  Several times I'd go to fill the horse's water trough and find a cowbird that had drowned.  There wasn't anywhere else to get a sip so they took the risk of quenching their thirst.  It was to their ruin.  I tried to keep the water topped off so they could perch on the edge but four thirsty horses drain water pretty fast.

Ironically, when the rain ebbs away, the weeds take over.  My arena has been a bit pathetic lately.  Jack was kind enough to mow it down for me so I could spray again.  Stoney couldn't trot through it without getting his legs tangled up.
Of course, there are a few benefits to limited rain: no sloppy mud, there's barely a need to mow (except the arena, haha!) and very few mosquitoes, all of which are definite blessings.  Still, I would have risked a few itchy bites and a mucky kitchen floor for the sake of some food for the grazers.

Eventually, all of those storms that kept teasing us as the rolled by to the south, gently billowed our way.  It drizzled steadily all day and the parched soil guzzled it up.  The plants are already looking perkier and no birds have perished in my watering trough today.  I'll take that as a good sign.
 


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