Making Hay

Making Hay

The title of this article is deceiving as I am not going to talk about making hay. This is what you would want to do when the sun is shining.

Instead, I want to talk to you about what to do when it’s raining, especially if it hasn’t been raining enough.

When we moved to Tyler, almost exactly one year ago, we were told that the area was having the most severe drought in a hundred years. But, it really didn’t seem that “droughty”. ┬áThere were trees that seemed fine, the grass was a little frayed but not dead, and it wasn’t until August that we were officially issued a “burn ban” in our county.

It is in hindsight that I now realize the scope and severity of what was happening last year.

I have mentioned before that we live right at Lake Palestine. When we moved here, it looked like a lake. What else was it supposed to look like, right? On the little drive across a causeway that leads to the “real” world that is not surrounded on three sides by water, we were happy to watch the island that was about a hundred yards from shore, fill in the afternoons with ducks and geese and various other water birds. They liked to hang out at the island where they could poke around unmolested by the weekend lake visitors wanting to throw bread at them.

This is only interesting now, because, there is no island.

What we thought was a cool little refuge for our aquatic feathered friends, doesn’t exist. At least, it wasn’t supposed to. Now that the winter and spring rains deposited much needed relief to our area, and I suppose areas North of us that feed the lake, the island is gone. There is one tree on a mound of sorts, an area about the size of a picnic table, that is the last of it.

Last summer, three or four families could easily have camped on this “island”. Sometimes we would see people doing just that. This year, the tent would be shoulder deep in water. We had no idea.

So here’s the thing, it’s important to save water.

Unfortunately, we usually don’t think about saving water unless we’re in some kind of crisis, drought, burn ban situation. We need to do better with our water resources, while it’s raining.

So, what can we do?

Be vigilant about water usage in your house. Train your children or your spouse to conserve water.

Have you noticed that since gas prices have skyrocketed, people are far more likely to carefully consider even short trips? Treat water the same way. Although living without gasoline would be challenging, exhausting and in general, not very fun, living without water is impossible.

Here are some things to remember:

  1. Acquire, maintain, and utilize rain saving equipment. Get a rain barrel or four. Use your rainwater for anything you’re able. The garden loves rain more than tap, every day of the week, but you can also use it to rinse things off, water livestock and pets or in your canning water baths. Do you run a veg stand at a Farmer’s Market? Make up four or five gallon milk jugs of rainwater, nothing added, sell them for two dollars each at your stand. And why not? Just be sure to label them not for human consumption.
  2. Utilize fresh bodies of water in your area. Take jugs to the creek or lake to fill. Use these for your plants.
  3. Be neurotic about the water you are using. More than just, “turn off the water while you brush” Don’t use the water for anything not necessary. Be the water Nazi!
  4. Educate as many as you can about water conservation. Each one, teach one.

Water conservation is essential, even when it is raining. This is the part that gets hard to wrap our heads around.

Last summer we couldn’t go to church without at least one prayer mentioning our need for rain. Those public prayers started thinning in January when it started to sprinkle. Now after several torrential storms, they are silent. I’m sure gardeners and farmers and the ranchers around are still doing their private bit of praying, but the rest of the people seem to have forgotten.

But see, while we enjoyed our little bird island, and are in wonder of it’s departure, we hope to never see it again.

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