About two years ago, I wrote two tongue-in-cheek blogs about our “real life” on the farm. Well, it’s time for another reality blog. Real life. Not beautiful, lush photos of our ever-so-gorgeous farm.
This summer has been brutal. In every way. Not only have had some difficult things going on with our family, but our land has also turned into a barren dessert here on Green Acres. There is hardly a green thing left here besides the ever-irritating mesquite bushes and weeds. Brown Acres. Dusty Acres. Dead Acres. There are many adjectives that are more fitting for the current state of affairs on our farm.
Some of the low points of the past three or four months include the fact that our usually bountiful berry crop was nonexistent this spring and summer. Nothing. We didn’t have more than a handful of the dewberries that usually line every single fence line of our property and provide bowl upon bowl of the delicious berries. We also didn’t have our usual buckets and buckets full of mustang grapes growing along tree lines and wrought iron fences and everything it could climb. For the past two years, I have made dozens and dozens of jars of homemade mustang grape jelly to give for Christmas gifts and I was unable to even make one batch this summer. I can’t explain to you how disappointing that was for me since I had planned to harvest a huge crop and sell the homemade jelly in my soon-to-be-opening-shop. I am so disappointed that I was unable to make even one single jar of it this year! Just to make matters worse, the poison ivy, poison oak, and sumac still managed to grow like crazy. Unbelievable.
Another sad fact is that we planted over fifty oak tree saplings, three peach trees, and four crepe myrtles in the spring and it looks like none of them survived the summer heat and drought here on Green Acres. We have been counting on planting these trees for years and now all of the time and money were apparently wasted. There is not one of them left standing.
In addition to the brown grass and trees, there is a thin, light brown layer of dust on everything on the farm. It has regularly made its way into our home as well. Covering it like a thin, gritty blanket. Nothing is immune to the dust devils blowing around our farm at all times. When we go out to feed our animals, the dust settles on our boots, on our clothing, and in our mouths. I feel like I am filming an old Western movie when I walk through the pig pens or across the pastures because the dust literally rises up from the ground in beige-colored clouds as I walk.
Due to the lack of green grass and fresh water from our ponds, our animals seem pretty miserable. There is very little green grass to eat and, therefore, our cattle began losing weight in early August this year. Usually, that begins to happen in around January. In past years, we purchased bales of hay sometime in January or February to supplement the winter grass, but this year we have already separated our cattle and are feeding our Longhorns hay in our back two pastures while our other cows finish off what’s left of the brownish-with-slight-tinges-of-green grass in the front pastures.
Because so many of our cows are in the front pasture due to our lack of grass, they have knocked over, rubbed against, or broken just about any and all free-standing objects on the front lawn. In fact, they have also knocked over, rubbed against, or broken just about any and all NON-free-standing objects on the front lawn as well. Picture a 1,200 pound bull using your newly planted red crepe-myrtle as a scratching post. Every day. Yes. That happened. I have only been waiting for three years to get some of the red crepe-myrtles here on Green Acres and was thrilled when my mother-in-law brought me two tall, healthy ones to plant in our yard. Well, they were absolutely perfect until one of our calves started rubbing against it regularly. Days later, I saw one of my chickens jumping like Michael Jordan to eat the buds off of the tree. I quickly ran out there and put some chicken wire around it, but that didn’t curtail our huge bull from deciding it was now officially his rubbing post. Not for his head, but for his “area” underneath. Yep. He would walk over to it and just straddle it and walk slowly over it to itch himself. He has made this a disgraceful daily habit now. Slowly walking over it and rubbing himself on the branches and leaves. It is now leaning at a 45-degree angle. I never want to even touch that crepe myrtle again. Ever.
Hopefully, by now you can imagine how things look on Green Acres. Dead grass. Dust everywhere. Not a plant alive. Animals everywhere they aren’t supposed to be. Animal droppings all around. A coyote wandering past the chicken coop right by the house. Yea, that happened this morning. It’s pretty crazy here. I’m thinking about wearing an eye-patch and spurs the next time I go outside so I fit in better with my surroundings.
Many of you are longing for land. Many of you wish that you, too, could live on Green Acres. I am thankful for every minute here, but I will be the first to tell you that even the smallest amount of farming and ranching isn’t for the faint of heart. You have to prepare yourself for tough days. Days when you don’t want to get sweaty, but you do it anyway. Days when you don’t want to get dirty, but you do it anyway. Days when you don’t want to sell off animals, but you do it anyway.
We are still thankful for our home, our land, and our animals, but we are definitely ready for an end to this endless drought and this unbearable heat. Bring on the crisp, cool days of fall. We are ready for the rainy days, the cooler air, and the upcoming holidays to spend with family and friends.