From Pipi’s Pasture: It’s turning into one dry summer
The last time I can remember the summer being this dry at Pipi’s Pasture was about 2002. In fact, it seems it is even drier and hotter now, but maybe that’s because present happenings are more vivid than memories from the past.
I can remember trying to keep up with watering the garden and lawns back then. I tried to be “kind” to our well (to let it rest some of the time) and to water in a way so as to provide enough water pressure for everything (like doing the laundry). That meant watering some of the garden each morning, then turning it onto the lawns the rest of the day. I remember Lyle saying he didn’t think we could run fast enough to keep everything watered. He was right; it was nearly impossible.
That brings us to this year — same thing. The only difference, if memory serves, is that this year’s garden is poor, to say the least, the most failure-to-thrive ever. It’s not that I don’t water, but apparently, with all the heat and wind, the plants just aren’t getting enough water. I realized that a couple of days ago with a tiny, partially- withered watermelon plant.
The plant looked as if it had been abandoned in a dry part of the garden, because the other seeds planted there didn’t come up. Anyway, I had watered the poor plant a little each day, but “little” is probably the key word. I found that out when I set a leaky part of the hose (where two hoses are connected) right on the plant. That way, it would get water each time I turned on the hose. The very next morning I was in for a big surprise. Not only did the watermelon plant have more leaves, it had probably quadrupled in size — maybe more.
The weeds are a real problem this year, too. Even though some of them look dry in some areas of the garden, for the most part, they have taken over, and I’m not sure I will ever get a handle on them this year. For one thing, the weeds have adapted to dry conditions over the years, and their roots grow from deep in the soil. Hoeing just cuts them off. Anyway, it seems as if my weed problem is worse than it was in 2002.
Back to that year, I can remember the pasture looked pretty good when we put the cattle out in late May/early June. The cattle are usually left in the pasture for a month and moved across the road. This first pasture is dependent on ponds for water. Water was a little short that year, so we kept an eye on the ponds.
I can remember one morning (probably in mid-June) when I drove up to the pasture. Where it had been green, the pasture now looked like a scene from outer space. It was dry and brown. Grasshoppers hopped everywhere. From that day on, we were even more vigilant about checking the water holes.
Then, one day when I was checking ponds, I found only a pool of water, about the size of our dining room table, left in the large pond — the only one to have any water. What to do? I called Cindy, our daughter-in-law. They lived north of Craig, then, and some of the cattle on pasture were theirs.
I’m out of words for this column. In next week’s column, I’ll write about what we did to remedy the water situation.
So much for the models that predicted a cool, wet summer for us here in western Colorado — at least I think it’s hot this July. Ranchers are probably relieved that it’s been a good haying season, and after the cool spring, it’s nice to have a “normal” summer, but it is indeed hot.