Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Texas has gone through a major drought for many months. As Texans, we are accustomed to consistent high temperatures, but the severe drought has taken its toll on the land, livestock, foundations, plant-life and on our water bills.

Living in such severe drought conditions has forced us to stay at the house in the Greater Houston area and to avoid our acreage. This is the time of year that I define as "Texas Hibernation." It is just too dang hot to do anything outdoors, unless it involves a water activity.

So, we are in Texas-hibernation mode and this means we aren't able to enjoy being on our land as often. One of the reasons we go to the land is to clean it up, to mow, to haul fallen branches and tree stumps to a burn pile that we light up. If we went to the land right now, we'd be making a pile of deadwood that would only sit for a long period of time. The land is also so dry that we can't even cook on an open fire and that is how we cook when we stay on our acreage. You don't exactly want to drive 15 miles, one-way, to town to eat when you are covered in sweat and dirt...enjoying the life of a true country bumpkin. Since there are burn bans and no way for us to access a large amount of water during an emergency, we must ride it out in the city house while waiting for drought conditions to improve.

Years ago, when we kept an RV on our acreage.
The good news is...this week we FINALLY got some beautiful rain! Actually, we were blessed to get a steady drizzle of rain for a couple of hours yesterday, then again today. This is the best kind of rain to fall upon the land after it has gone without a significant drink for many long months. The ground has solidified into a hardened mass, similar to rock. This soil condition puts us in danger of flash flooding, so I'm very happy the rain is coming in a gentle steady shower so that the ground can start opening again to receive the waters. I believe we'll be getting more rain this week. It is a beautiful sight.

Deputy Dave actually using the sprayer as a watering can for
my special plants on the land...lemon tree, Jane Magnolia, etc.
We do not have a water source to reach this part of the land.
The overwhelming heat in Texas and the drought conditions have taken a toll on my tomato plants here at the house in the Greater Houston area. They are suffering from heat exhaustion. The greenery of the tomato plants has been trying to hang in there, but they are rather straggled looking and without beautiful juicy red tomatoes ready for the picking. However, my bell pepper plants, jalapeno plants, carrots and all of our herbs are doing just fine.

This is what I'd eat very often...fresh tomatoes
with cuts of mozzarella. Often, with slices of avocado too.
I miss my daily tomato picking excursion into the backyard. Finding a red tomato hidden within a tangled vine is just like finding a nugget of gold in a Colorado river. Well, almost as exciting. And yes, I've panned for gold in a Colorado river and it was thrilling. Back to my tomatoes...thankfully, my little niece, Shaye, also finds this treasure hunt to be as exciting as I do. If she picks a tomato and the greenery is left intact at the top of the tomato, the greenery at the top of the tomato that acts as a sort of "setting" that holds the tomato onto the vine, then she is especially joyful because she has the "CROWNS."

Okay, I thought tomato picking was as exciting as hunting for gold, but my niece took it to a new level, she sees the green attachment to the tomato as a beautiful CROWN!

I think that when we plant our home-grown veggie garden on our acreage, we'll plant a few tomato plants in an area that will get partial shade. The sun's full heat upon the tomato plants is not so great for their production as we get fully into summer-time. The Texas heat can be harsh.

The plants BEFORE it got too hot.
In fact, it is often a perpetual summer here in Texas...I've even experienced many Christmases during my years growing up that were so hot that we went swimming in the backyard pool after opening our presents. After all, it was 80+ degrees outside. Speaking of Christmas in Texas, this is the place where mama would get a BBQ pit for Christmas, especially after dad made the mistake one year of giving her a fur coat. After she unwrapped that fur coat, all of us went into a fit of hysterics because the air-conditioning was running full blast. Mom sat there nearly speechless, trying to say, "Uh...Thanks?" The coat was was the ultimate gift that would rarely be used. She couldn't even pose for pictures wearing it because she'd be in danger of a heat stroke. Texas gives you unique moments like that...memorable. But, I have to admit, swimming with Santa was always a blast.

Me and my personal dad.
Photo taken this summer.
Santa's hair has disappeared, but he's cooler this way.
Maybe the rain will give us a reprieve from all of this drought; although, Texas is so far behind in rainfall that it will take a while for our water sources to recover. My brother and his family went to launch his boat last week for some fishing in Austin and this is what he found...

This is the true picture of the effects of a drought. I don't think my brother will be catching any fish here, not until we get rain, lots of rain. Until the usual Texas heat wave passes and drought conditions improve, I'll try to enjoy my Texas Hibernation.


Rae said...

So glad you got some rain!!! I can't imagine drought, with all the rain we've been getting. Our springtime finally arrived... In July. :)

Mike said...

Whodathunk a 'no wake zone' in a river/lake could also be used during your hibernating months? ;)

Charade said...

You are so lucky to have your personal Santa still around - I lost mine seven years ago, but I still feel his presence whenever the snow starts to fly.

Please send some of that rain to the north and east so Central Missouri can catch a break, too.

LindaG said...

Have you started thinking what you'll do to have water when you're finally at your property?

You have chickens and tomatoes in the same picture. I thought chickens ate tomatoes. How do you keep them out of your tomatoes? Perhaps I missed the fence...

Texas has had a lot of drought the last few years, hasn't it? I imagine that fishing spot will need more than a little rain before it will have fish again. Are there any wet holes anywhere or have the fish all died off?

I'm glad to hear you've had a little rain, anyway. Good luck for getting more!

Lana from Farm Life Lessons said...

Rae --- we are still sorely lacking for rain. But, I guess it's always a delicate balance of not too little and not too much!

Mike --- glad you got a kick out of the picture. It is a very interesting "No Wake" zone. haha

Charade --- I am so blessed to have my dad around. I lost my mom five years ago. She was 57 and had breast cancer. She was my best-friend and I miss her with all my heart. My dad though is a character and he tries to keep up! My mom sure did help him to be an excellent Santa!

Linda --- we paid an exhorbant price to have city water ran to the edge of our land, but the picture of him with the little water sprayer is on part of the land that is several acres from the water spout. I believe we'll have to have a well for the animals and we might be able to run the water line to the cabin...not sure. As time gets closer, we'll have to get estimates and ideas on what will work best. I'd like to be as self-sufficient as possible, so that might mean a couple of wells. Later, we COULD fill up a huge water tank attached to a tractor at the city spigot and run it to the other side. But, it'll be a lot of work and distance. It's another hurdle.

And yes, my chickens will snag any tomatoes they can reach. We had to wrap a couple of the tomato plants with chicken wire to keep them away. The other plants are exposed and they do take a toll from the cihckens. But, the drought and long days of Texas heat is mostly damaging to the plants right now. We keep seeing advertisements in our area of "heat resistant" tomato plants...we might have to try some next year or get them partially planted in some shade. In dried of area for boating, the area has taken a hit with fishing, but I am hoping we will continue to get rain so that our water sources and fish/aqua-life can recover. It's been tough, especially for our lake and river levels. I sure have enjoyed getting some rain.

WhisperingWriter said...

Ooo I LOVE tomatoes and mozzerella. So good.