Diane prather: The strange summer of 2012

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Diane Prather

The cattle and some sheep are out on pasture now—where there is pasture.

Some ranchers may still be irrigating –where there’s water to irrigate, and some may even be putting up dry land hay—where there’s hay.

“Dry” is the word for this early summer—and “strange”.

It’s a strange season for a number of reasons all of which are probably associated with the dry winter.

However it’s strange that some stock ponds held some water while others were dry—all in the same pasture.

And although the humidity is low, why is our garden staying damp much more than usual?

Why are there more bees than usual this summer?

Earlier in the spring when our cherry trees blossomed, they were covered with bees, and now great big bumblebees spend their time on the patio flowers.

It’s so dry that a person might expect the mosquitoes to be more scarce than usual.

However there are mosquitoes around.

And there are some beautiful orange birds around here this year, too.

One thing is for sure. Each summer is a little different from the one before it, no matter whether the weather is wet or dry, and when people get together conversation often turns to, “Remember the year that…?”

Though it has barely begun, the summer of 2012 is apt to be remembered for some of the following:

• The ponds on summer livestock pastures that were completely dry for the first time (at least as far as anyone remembers)

• Water being hauled by truck to cattle and sheep pastures, where water has never been hauled before

• The scarcity of irrigation water

• More livestock trucks on the road than usual, hauling livestock to out-of-county pasture and to be sold

• A busier-than-usual summer for brand inspectors

• Wind, wind and more wind

• Shortage of grass on pastures

• A scarcity of wildflowers

• Flowers that did bloom being very short in height

• Not as many dandelions as usual

• Rattlesnakes being seen in areas where they aren’t usually seen

• Lots of bees, especially bumblebees

• More wild animals than usual coming close to homes, perhaps in search of food and water

• People looking for hay and expecting to pay a premium for it

• For most people, a wish list for rain or a big wet snow (even in June)

• A lot of dried up flower buds on the lilac bushes, left because a frost got them before they could blossom

• Hummingbirds hanging around at lower elevations longer this spring, perhaps because there are no flowers at higher elevations

• An oddity that even a few sprinkles of rain start to green things up

• Grasshoppers starting to hatch out

• People thinking about ways to conserve water

• Speculation as to the type of winter that might follow the dry summer

• Grateful robins that can find worms in damp lawn soil

• Rhubarb, that usually thrives in a rather dry place, being only a few inches tall

• Mosquitoes being out and about even though it’s dry

• Being grateful for what we do have

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