Well, where to start?? This year my garden has struggled. Hard. It started by a bull jumping my garden fence and tromping the tenderly transplanted seedlings to the ground. Not to be deterred, I replanted by seed. A late start, yes. But I just have to have my garden!
But spring skipped us. I mean ALL of it. We got no storms as is typical in our NE Texas spring season, but we got no rain either. Then the heat & humidity of our summers hit – again with no rain. It’s a sad thing, but I’m making adjustments to try to squeak by.
Here in Texas it’s typically very hot and dry during our summertime months. So I’m careful to mulch our garden heavily. Mulching helps the plants in many ways. It not only conserves that precious moisture, but it also moderates soil temps. I like to mulch with natural materials whenever possible. A typical gardening year will see me mulching with grass clippings, leaves or spent hay.
But I have a section of my garden that holds my Concord Grapevine. I’ve trained it to grow along the fence. It’s LOADED with grapes! But I’ve also vowed to keep the Bermuda grass from creeping into my garden. So all the walkways in the garden plus a wide perimeter swath is mulched with free wood chips.
But the grapevine is right at the fenceline. So to keep bermuda from creeping in around the grapevine I surrounded it with 3 bales of wheat straw. The purpose was just to deny sneaky Bermuda the sunlight as it attempts to grow beneath the bales to get into my garden.
But those straw bales are several years old now. They’re just spent and starting to deteriorate. I need to replace them.
I’ve said it before and I can’t say it enough. I love it here! I love living in the country and the small-town feel. We’ve made good friends and feel a true sense of community here. And there’s that old 1800’s Barn that just speaks to my heart! My life here is perfect in all ways except one. I struggle to get plants, trees or shrubs to live in our yard!! Apparently we built our home right in the middle of the Botanical Hole of Death.
RancherMan & I often do some light traveling during the summer months. This year Mother Nature has dealt us yet another hard blow – drought has once again returned to our part of NE Texas.
No rain has fallen on our ranch in over a month, the grass is brown & crunchy, leaves are falling from the trees and even mature established drought-resistant plants like my rosemary are fading fast. But we have a road trip planned & we’ll be away from the homestead for almost two weeks and I’m worried about the small pear tree RancherMan bought me this spring – how and I going to keep it alive in my absence with this weather?
This year has been a roller-coaster ride for RancherMan & me due to an unexpected illness. Thank goodness I had garden angels that surprised me at our house one beautiful spring morning and completely prepared all of our raised beds and planted my garden for me. What a blessing! I was able to harvest fresh veggies from my own garden this year because of the love and tender hearts of those sweet people.
But as I recovered from my illness the focus wasn’t on gardening and I had some failures where I normally wouldn’t have. One such failure was my crop of onions.
I planted plenty, but I wasn’t able to tend to them as they grew. So they just withered & disappeared beneath the straw mulch as the brutal drought gripped our area of Northeast Texas for the third year in a row. But recently I was pretty excited to see those little green tops peeking from beneath the soil. Some of my onions were coming back!
We were forced to reduce our herd in 2011 and 2012 due to the gripping drought that held us captive those years. We have maintained a lower stocking rate and use temporary stocker cows of different breeds during times when the grass was plentiful, selling them when the grass waned. It was a painful decision but that flexibility allowed us to continue our ranching operation and emerge strong.
The drought of 2011 was a hard one on our Texas ranch but somehow we struggled through. However the subsequent consecutive year of drought in 2012 forced us to sell off some of our hand-picked registered cattle in order to assure there was grazing and water available for our remaining herd.
Thankfully the winter rains came and replenished our ponds. We were able to get through that year by utilizing stocker animals to add to or take off our pastures as the grass came and went during the seasons.
Like many of our ag friends here in NE Texas we’ve suffered through two consecutive years of drought. Due to the heat & lack of rain there has been wide-spread damage to our trees. Our cedars were hit particularly hard and we lost about 80% of them, but our other trees were weakened as well.
In their compromised state, last years unforgiving weather pushed many of them over the edge and we had a heavy die-off of our trees.