Happy 4th of July America…and to all of you!!!
God Bless America!
I use the top photo often as it is by far my favorite flag picture…seeing our flag flying full, proud and free, on a horse that is flying proud and free, always takes my breath away!!! Happy 4th of July America…I hope you are celebrating with your families and with America today as we stop once again to wish our glorious country Happy Birthday! Now where is that cake? I want the frosting….
Holy Cow! We have had record hot temps with abnormally hotter than hot summer days and nights the last few weeks, it was 85 degrees outside at 11:30 at night. We climbed into the 108-110 degree range daily, for over a week and the humidity was incredibly stellar…we usually do not get much humidity here as we are in a dry climate area…however, this last week day or night it was humid. It was hard to breathe as the air was so heavy and hot. We have had a dry furnace breeze blowing since last Saturday all day long until sundown hits and then it quits and the hot humid air just hangs…suffocating and nasty hot.
I love saying “Holy Cow” as it reminds me of my Dad, who said it often and taught me the same:)
Last Tuesday and Wednesday night our bedroom was 90 degrees with 90% humidity…no air was moving outside, not even a fresh Juniper Canyon breeze blowing up the canyon drifting over us, cooling off our bedroom so we could sleep…it was dead calm and weirdly quiet outside. The crickets were not crickiting…is that a word? All I would occasionally hear was the annoying bull frog and he was not doing his usual hyped up over himself 8 second ribbits. Most nights it would finally cool down to 75 degrees about 3:00 am, which is still very hot for us and for the nocturnal coyotes, owls and our deer, and all the various animals outside.
With the hot temps the wheat is drying out and turning a golden amber color with a touch of burnt red. It is one of my favorite colors and I use it through out my house. Our landscape has turned from green grasses and weeds into dry fuel that would burn easy with a lightning strike. Both our barn cats have moved down from the hay loft to the cement aisle floors as it is cooler down there yet and close to their cold automatic water trough.
Two weeks ago it was 55-60 degrees…cloudy…windy…rainy…chilly! That was kind of weird for here too but we needed the rain so while I complained that I was tired of gray skies and tired of being chilly…the rain was welcome. We try to be tough and sleep in our bedroom every summer but I have an idea that we will be getting that new A/C unit installed this year specifically for our bedroom. We used to not mind the heat up here but the last years we have gotten spoiled by the air on the main floor and our basement floor.
As I mentally turn back the clock to the 1920’s through the 1990’s when we did not have air conditioning anywhere in the house….we survived and managed. My great-grandmother Anne Marie would probably tsk tsk me for being too hot and tell me to be a big girl now. It fits with the society we live in now…we feel we have to have all the conveniences to comfort us…but I know we can survive grumpily without them:) However…hmmm…when it is 85 degrees at night and a 110 during the day…we need lots of nice cool air to cool us off to sleep at night!
My hubby is from the southeast corner of the state…so was my Mom. We read in the paper today how the ranchers and farmers are struggling with drought conditions caused by not receiving adequate rain for several years. In turn this has caused the reservoirs to dry up. For the cattle rancher who depends on the water for the health of his livestock, and for their survival out on the high desert, many of the century old ranches have only one choice left and that is to sell off their herd or a large part of it. The price of hay will be prohibitive, if they can find it, and the cattle have to have water. I have ridden horseback out to gather cattle on the high desert between Jordan Valley and the base of the Steens and there is not much feed out there under normal circumstances. Today, I would imagine it looks pretty barren and very dry as far as the eye can see. The BLM is hauling water to the various animals of the high desert, the wild mustangs, the pronghorn antelope and etc.
The green-gold irrigation that has fed the farmers ever since the irrigation was developed and run by the BLM is running out of water too. If the farmer runs out of water to irrigate his crops, he can not grow his crops, including the hay crops to sell to the cattle ranchers to feed their cattle. The massive Owyhee Reservoir that we have boated on for years, will drop to a third full by August…the lowest it has been on record since it was created in the early 1930’s. That is incredible as this damn is 55 miles long and 450′ deep at the Glory Hole. Hearing of the Owyhee Reservoir being low, means dire circumstances, as the farmers and ranchers have relied on growing several crops per year to support their families and the world.
They can not grow their crops without water, and if the ranchers can not water their cattle or feed them, then they have no choice but to sell their livestock, which puts their lifestyle at risk. When the family ranch is passed on to you by the generations before you, and during your watch, a historic drought happens that may cause you to sell off your cattle and your land with all the heritage that was passed on to you, you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. When your blood is flowing in the land down deep and you can touch the very earth that was homesteaded for you, you can feel the heritage that runs through your veins…it never goes away. I saw this first hand on some of the huge ranches we managed for the new owners…it was heartbreaking to watch the previous owners pack up their heritage and history. In my own way, I felt their pain and I understood. When I ride my horse out into the fields around us here, and I sit quietly, closing my eyes, I can hear the distant teams of horses plowing the dirt that I am currently standing on, I can hear the long ago voices of the past and I know it is my Grandfather and his brothers…the echos of my heritage come to life in my heart for a few moments in a brief time warp……
This last week there are fires on the Owyhee that have burned 44,000 since a lightning storm moved through the area on July 2. The BLM reports as I write this, the fire is 50% contained and under control.
Due to the dry conditions during the summer of 2012, a million acres or 1500 square miles, burned in Malheur and Harney Country, from dry fuel and dry lightning. This year 33 square miles have already burned from dry fuel and lightning. And new fires broke out Sunday night in a very remote rugged area. The drought has brought the Treasure Valley to a halt, which is unheard of as the irrigated farms around the valley were prosperous and raised incredible crops. We have miles and miles of dry land wheat acres here to support our farms…learning about irrigation from WB, as he grew up with it and knows it well, shook this dry Eastern Oregon Cowgirl up a bit as I had no idea that a mere farm of a 100 acres could do better than we could with 1000’s of acres! The drought of 2013 has placed both the farmers and ranchers in a precarious place, they need assistance, rain after rain storm and they need grazing land to feed their cattle, such as CRP, while the farmer need water to grow their crops.
My heart goes out to them…and to the desperation they must feel. The ranching and farming families that work the land depend on God and the weather, are a tough bunch, they have lots of strength and moxie and I am praying that God gives them even more strength and moxie right now to hang on and keep going…remember them in your prayers. It is not an easy life to live, this cowboying, cattle ranching life we have lived…it’s a rough and tough life. It’s not an easy life for the farmers either, who break up the soil, planting a tiny little seed in the dirt, while praying and trusting hard for the right amount of rain and good weather to bring it to fruition. Working long hours from sun up to well after dark, farm families work together to bring in the crop, and often the farm wife is serving up a late harvest meal at 10:00 at night, due to a break down right at quitting time. Tired or not the repair had to be figured out and fixed, so harvest would not be delayed the next morning, before heading home for dinner. I remember doing dishes by hand, drying them and putting them back into the cupboard at midnight, before I went to bed, so I would be organized to cook an early breakfast four hours later for my family.
As I write this, our temp today is 90 degrees and has cooled off some, but the air conditioner is still on. Our cool weather will last over the weekend but not for long as we are to have another high pressure system move in by Sunday and hotter than normal temps will return…and where is the phone number for the air conditioner business who can install air for our room? I am not sure why the weather is changing so much…but it is. The patterns we are in currently, are not what I remember as a kid here and certainly not what WB remembers in Vale where he grew up. It will affect all of us one way or another as our food supply will drop and the price of groceries will rise due to lack of produce…and no the price does not go to the farmer. The drought will destroy some of the family farms and ranches which to me, is very sad as these agricultural based families have been growing food to feed the nation for over a 100 years and now their land is drying up, their cattle can not survive, the irrigated row crops will begin to dwindle, if they haven’t already. Their lives and livelihood are at stake and times are tough, but if anyone can get through this, it is the American Farmer and the American Livestock Rancher. We do know how to dig deep…and carry on with determination and courage…and I applaud them!
Tonight as we celebrate our great nation’s birthday, remember our military and their families…and pray for America! Enjoy the fireworks…we do not do that part as we have to be careful of fire here. Eat lots of good food, we do that part:) Enjoy the company of your family and friends! Together we stand one nation under God with liberty and justice for all! God Bless The United States of America!