It CAN’T get any worse….can it?

It’s the start of a new year.  January 1st, 2012.  FINALLY, out with 2011.  If you haven’t been paying attention, this was a miserable year for Texas weather.  A history-making drought combined with massive wildfires.

It would be easy to just shrug and give one of those “wait till next year” quips.  (I’m a Cubs fan, this is an annual statement).  But it isn’t that simple.

Between January 1st, 2010 and December 31st, 2010, I received 14.84 inches of rain.  4.90 of those inches came in the month of December, normally one of the drier months.  In a normal year, I would get a shade over 32 inches of rain.  I got less than half of a normal season.  Bad, right?  But the rest of the story is we had 90 consecutive days of 100 degree or higher temperatures.  That is one-quarter of the year.

It didn’t matter what you were growing.  Veggies, trees, shrubs, turf…they were all dying.  As was livestock, backyard animals, and wildlife.  It was NOT a good year.

I don’t care what caused this.  I care about being able to continue to farm my little piece of ground.  I want to be able to continue to enjoy the huge variety of wildlife, from birds to bees to butterfly’s, that come through my property.  I want to prepare for 15 inches of rain becoming the normal.  And I want my water bill to be less than my house payment.

I’m going to document the steps I take to battle the drought.  I’ve been here 30 plus years trying to make it work when the weather was normal.  I’m hoping I have the tools and tricks to make this happen when it isn’t normal.

There isn’t “just one thing” to solve this.  There is no silver bullet.  It’s a combination of small steps, tough choices, and changes in direction.  I want to document what works and what doesn’t.  I want to try to put some value on the choices based not just on cost, but also labor, and how the investment improved the yield.  I love what I do, I love to have my hands in the dirt.  But when it is over 100 degrees, the ground is cracking, and the plants are brown instead of green, love doesn’t come easy.  There has to be some return.  That’s what I’m trying to find…the best return.

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About Jeff

A 30-year Central Texas gardener, an instructor of gardening and urban farming in the Continuing Education program with Austin Community College, holder of a Permaculture Design Certificate and operator of Wild Plum Valley Farm, an attempt to turn an urban acre of land into a more self-sufficient homestead without breaking my back or the bank. And Jeff is forever grateful to his beautiful and loving wife Lori. Too many times, the word "I" is used when it couldn't have been done without her.
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