I peer into the northwest sky from where the elusive rain is said to come. The grass beneath my feet crunches as if walking on popcorn. The leaves on trees sag like the craggy faces of older people. Despite a brave and collective denial of reality, an early drought has set in. The weatherman maintains hope by elevating rain predictions only at the last minute to reduce our chances.
Several years ago Central Texas suffered a drought of historical proportion. Our fields browned out, crops withered, and dust rode the winds like powder before a fan. Ranchers lost crops and failed to produce hay. Stocks of expensive hay had to be trucked in to maintain herds of cattle, sheep, and goats. Some ranchers along with their crops withered under the assault.
This year I maintain two barns full of hay, enough easily to tide me through an average winter. I am capable of one trial learning. Yesterday during one of our typically wettest months, I had to put out hay for my cows. I fear what lays ahead.
Creeks flow slowly or not at all. Stock tanks recede and algae spreads like kudzu. Bluebonnets appear slaked. Our hopeful Spring has given way to a dusty desperation. We’ve taken to shaking rain sticks, a Caribbean superstition thought to summon rain. Why not engage in superstitions when all else has failed?
The rains may still come and rescue our land from early drought. I obsessively check weather reports. How fickle and cruel is Mother Nature. We remain hopeful as time exists for the skies to open forth with crop restoring, creek flushing, and pond filling rains. Time will tell. We wait.
One Day Later: It rained! Just after writing the piece above, the skies opened and half an inch of rain fell- hardly enough to break our drought but might it be the beginning of a much needed rainy season.
Already the fields have begun to green up. Amazing how fast the turnaround can be and how quickly the spirits of ranchers can improve.