Days of DRY (part 2)

How did I omit “heat” from this blog post title? God knows. Its been inhumanly hot. The kind of hot where you go outside and whatever you were planning on doing just melts your brain along with your resolve about being ANY kind of productive. (okay, never mind my goal, turn around, go back inside, just get me out of this heat!).

Ahhhhhhhh. Get some cold water. A/C. Okay. Now I can think. And here is what I think:  I.must.remain.inside. Standing at the window looking outside seems an awful lot like looking through the glass panel in front of a hot oven watching things slowly cook to the brown and crispy state. Here is what my new azalea bushes look like.

I have been watering them, you can tell by the green grass near them. Those leaves should be just as green. Doesn’t matter. The heat fried them anyway.

Here is a lovely sweet smelling Japanese flowering tree. It stays under cover on our deck, out of most of the day’s sun. I water it every day. Doesn’t matter.

I didn’t take a photograph of the baby phoebes that got fried, open mouthed, in their nest by our back door. That was just too sad to document.

So, it’s hot, but, where was I? Oh yes, I was talking about our native pasture project. Give the pasture back to Mother Earth. Native grass. Yes, let’s have a native prairie again please.

John our hay man is very accommodating. When we had the, ahem, “Roundup conversation” early on, I told him very clearly: “John, I know your farmer friends and you would normally spray herbicide. I promise you, am not going to get angry with you or blame you, if our project fails. We just cannot use poison on our land. We are going to have to give it a go without that. I hope you understand.”

He said that he did. He said he, and most of his friends, made most of their decisions primarily because of economics. Who can blame him? John has a wife and three very young children. And a second job. He didn’t say it outright, but I knew John’s farmer friends had a snicker or two about our plan. Conventional wisdom held that without Roundup first, the fescue would prevail and our expensive native prairie seed would simply blow away in the persistent Kansas wind.

But we went ahead with grass plan number one anyway. John plowed under the fescue and planted our native seed in early Spring. We did get a hard two inch rain two days later. The seed was pounded in and watered. Thank you! But, other than that rain, and the Solstice Eve rain, there has been no rain to speak of. Officially we have gotten 1/2 inch of rain at Atira Moon in the last 90 days.

Dry ground, plowed mature fescue, fresh native seed, pathetic amount of rain, extreme heat. That’s truly a recipe for no grass.

Except. We do have grass. Somehow, the praire grass grew. In the terrible conditions offered, the fescue faltered, and the prairie grass grew! The prairie grass actually grew.

This is a photo from about mid May.

When John was here haying last week, he told me some of his farmer pals found themselves wondering what was happening in our field as Spring turned into Summer. Some would slow down and look and others would actually park along the road to have much better view at our newly planted prairie grass. I didn’t happen to see any of them do this, but I am sure, they had to be scratching their heads while they were looking. It did not make sense, what they were seeing.

I was scratching mine as I walked through the pastures. For a while I thought the green shoots must have been the fescue re-emerging. But it wasn’t fescue, the blades of grass you are looking at in the photo are primarily a native orchard grass.

There is very little reason we should have a living prairie in these conditions with only the morning dew to sustain it. The only thing I can come up with is this: It’s because this grass belongs here, and Mother Earth is pleased.

The Days of DRY are not yet done, and neither is this story. John was here to cut and harvest hay from our established hay field. Haying has been a grim task around here (And in Oklahoma and in Texas). It remained to be seen what our field would produce.