I took a few pictures the other day of the countryside to show the drought conditions we are in. By looking at the pictures the nice green color of the grass gives the impression that moisture is plentiful. The reason the pastures and meadows are so green is because we have had just enough rain to keep everything alive. Also temperatures have been 90 degrees or below until recently and the vegetation hasn’t suffered heat stress. That is all about to change as temperatures during the last week have climbed into the upper nineties and we can expect those types of temperatures from now on. Rainfall received this month was 1.1 inches on May 12, 0.55 inches on May 21 and 0.20 inches on May 25. That brings our 2011 yearly total to 6.0 inches. The last significant rain we received was in late August an September of 2010.
This is a picture looking at my front yard and across the meadow. As noted above, the grass still looks green however it is not growing at all. This spring I have only mowed the entire yard once and part of it twice. Normally mowing would be done once a week at the least starting the first of April.
This is the pond behind the barn. It is the oldest pond on the farm and was constructed after WWII (late 1940’s). To my knowledge it has never gone dry. The water level when full would be at the base of both trees. Grass and weeds have followed the receding water line looking for moisture.
Another shot of the pond. When it rains and it fill with water it will be nasty with all the plant material decomposing in it.
This is the second oldest pond on the farm. My Grandpa Ottmer had it dug a couple of years after the above pond was constructed. Before it caught any water Grandpa set a tall post in the deepest part so he had a gauge of how much water was in it. The post was cut from a Bois d’arc tree (also called osage orange, bodark, horse apple and many other names). It has survived well being submerged for 60 plus years. This is the most I’ve ever seen of the post exposed. When he set the post in the bottom it was about 12 feet tall.
This pond and the previous one were dug using a crawler tractor pulling a fresno scraper. Most of the bulldozers at the time did not have hydraulic operated blades. They were raised and lowered with a winch and cables and the operator did not have a lot of control. Therefore moving dirt was easier with a scraper. The fresno scraper was invented for use with horses and mules in the late 1800’s. Later it was adapted to be pulled by a tractor.
This is Robert’s pond. It is the newest and the largest pond of the adjoining properties. Not much water left here. This pond leaks; not through the berm but through the bottom. The creek is right behind the berm and the creek bed is about 20 feet lower than the bottom of the pond. Water can be seen seeping out of the creek bank near the bottom and has now stopped since the pond is all but dry. It does OK with water retention during a year of normal rainfall but during a drought it slowly drains dry.
This is the creek looking upstream from the creek crossing. It has not had flowing water since early January and that was only for a few days. Before that it stopped flowing around Halloween of 2010. Brush and tree have taken over and it is hard to navigate on foot even now that it is not flowing and all holes have dried up.
Another shot of the stream bed looking downstream from the crossing. Vegetation has taken over.
For this shot I walked downstream from the crossing about 40 feet. I turned around and made the shot towards the Gator which is sitting in the bottom of the crossing. The dogs, Missy and Benji are sitting in the Gator. I don’t know if they could see me, but I could not see them.
Vegetation growing in stream beds is common during extended droughts. It usually take a couple of floods to clear out the creeks when we return to a normal rainfall pattern.
Last shot, the meadow down by the creek. It looks good from a distance however when walking through the grass it is only about a foot tall and sparse. It is hardly worth mowing. Instead of the normal 3 to 4 bales pe acre it would probably only produce 2 to 3 bales per 15 acres.