Monday, June 25, 2012

Drought

Self-Sufficent. Prepped. Self-Reliant.

Bull Sh#!.

If you don't have rain, you have nothing.

Middle Tennessee has had no rain to speak of for nearly a month. None is expected in the next 10 days. Every step I take, I hear "crunch!". Thank G-d we bought hay early, and if it were not for our well, the garden would be as dead as fried chicken. Or as dead as our corn "field" (patch), which is very, very dead. Or as dead as our hay fields, which are as dead as Kelsey's Nuts. Did I mention the forecast is for 100 + degree days and we've had no rain?

I cannot imagine enduring this 100 years ago, because we would f***ing starve (besides being baked to death) if we weren't provident enough to carry enough preserved foods for a bad year. What if its 2 bad years?

No water. No food. Pretty simple, really. And I am really grumpy about it.

I have often said that if a 1936 summer showed up in the U.S., we would have REAL trouble. REAL TROUBLE. Its only a matter of time... could be 100 years from now, or it could be this is just week 1...

Corn prices were falling hard. Now they are trading lock limit up.


14 comments:

PioneerPreppy said...

100 years ago we would be watering the essential crops by hand. Not alot you could do about the field crops but the ones you needed to survive you would be watering.

kathy said...

We finally got rain yesterday but it's so dry, even here in wet Massachusetts, that the soil more than an inch down remains powdery. Mulching has helped to retain the slight moisture. We are bordered my a decent stream and DH instaled a watering system so I don't have to haul water anywhere but the greenhouses. The sweet potatoes, a new crop for us, are doing well as they love the heat. You're quite right. I'm prepared for a year but two would leave us might hungry. You can talk economics all you like but we exist because it rains.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

"We exist because it rains". How powerful is that?

Of course, it will rain somewhere... I have been following Stu Staniford's drought series. I find that very disturbing... wouldn't have meant a thing to me in my NYC days, but living here on the farm I have a whole new level of understanding. I think...

confederate miner said...

Greg just when I was gonna congratule you on becoming a southern gentleman farmer. You aren't going to starve. Go fishing then when the seasons change go hunting. People in south a hundred or more years ago probably put more food on the table by hunting and fishing than they did farming.
On a more serious note. What do you think the suadis think about 15 dollar beans with 78 dollar oil?

kathy said...

Brace yourself Greg. I linked this post on my blog and you might get an influx of some earthy/crunchy liberals over here. Be kind. They are very nice people.

gardenerG said...

Steve Solomon has info on dry area gardening. Basically giving plants more space for roots to spread and find moisture.

For optimal use of water, I mulch along with drip hose. It really doesn't take much.

Now for field crops, I guess having a decent amount of organic material in the soil should stretch things between rains. Other than that, you would need irrigation just like good old California does with those weeks of beautiful (sans rain) skies.

Anonymous said...

Feel your pain! one year it was drought conditions and certain veggies did well, while others did not. Then last year we received excess rain and disease ripped my tomatos to shredds. Cucumbers loved it though. Crazy. I think 100 years ago, many people would have full gardens, but, each would do a niche crop for trading the excess. This would ensure the community would not suffer to baddly. I think. We practiced this up in Ohio up to the early 70s. This is a great learning exercise for you, ie. planting for the prospect of losing a portion is forward thinking, and will save your butt.

robert

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Drought conditions here in summer of Middle Tn. can be FIERCE.

Yea, I can figure out the garden... no problem. But this place is real. And real means livestock, and livestock need to be fed.

And they don't eat out of a garden.

There is NO GRASS. And there will be NO GRAINS to harvest. I am looking at this intellectually... where are my liability points? What contingency plans are possible/probable?

I am feed a family of 5, year round, almost exclusively from the farm... the garden? Its less than 5% of calories.

Most important to my mind? A family cow. They eat 30 to 40 pounds of fodder per day.

The 2 gallons of milk will keep you in dairy products and raise a couple of hogs per year.

Second: Chickens. You cannot let them "free range" all of the time. Tried that. They destroyed my gardens. I have a moveable chicken tractor... but there is NO GRASS, and therefor NO BUG in the grass... so its grains for them. And guess what? There are no grains!

The freezers are full. 2 hogs and a steer. That's the easy part.

Now... want to run your farm on Horse power? I am trying and you need to feed them. A LOT. But there is no grass! And no grain!

"We exist because it rains". No rain? No existence.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

We are as comfortable as pees in a pod. We can head down to the store and buy what ever we need. We can go to the feed mill and buy what we need. What if we couldn't?

I would have to slaughter far more animals than I could eat. My neighbors would be in the same fix, so the market for these animals would plunge.

Now I wouldn't have traction, or meat, or milk, the following year... or something.

Drought is a very, very serious thing.

I need to come up with a better plan than hoping that it rains.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

You don't think I am always nice Kathy? Just kidding!

tweell said...

I don't know much about your setup, so am looking at the most versatile type of watering system - the travelling gun. A link for you to start from:

http://www.atsirrigation.com/

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Thanks for the link, Tweel.

Might have to shoot the lock off the wallet... but I was thinking more in terms of a 5000 gallon tank supplied by rain off the barn roof or pumped out of a well with a windmill.

PioneerPreppy said...

Greg you have hit on a problem many people just do not understand today. They think that 5 Acres or 20 acres can give them some security and maintain them no matter what. The truth is a family farm needs many more acres than most anyone can afford today unless they are a subsidized professional farmer. Just for the reason of the drought if nothing else.

There is grain and there is fodder just not enough. Down at the parents place they have moved their livestock to their lower fields. They will not get any hay off these fields this year now but the bottom fields are fed by a constant spring that pushes out between 5 and 8 gallons an hour. I think it has slipped some during this drought but the point is when looking at self sufficient acreage you have to consider periods such as we are having.

Your team of plow horses is a smart choice as long as you have the land to feed them during boom years and bust.

GHung said...

I feel your pain, Greg. Having been through several droughts, here in the mountains of Western NC, when I inherited my section of the family farm, the first task was to develop water systems. I built two small/deep ponds, fed by our two small streams, before I built our off-grid home. I tapped a very reliable spring for the house water, solar pumped to a cistern on the ridge above the house site, again, before home construction began. This was @16 years ago. As our self-reliance has grown, even though we live in a normally 'wet' area (long-term average is 65 inches annually), this spring we developed a lower spring, total 2000 gal. storage, solar pumped to a cistern above the garden to provide drip irrigation for more intense growing. The system currently provides about 4300 GPD if needed and has excess capacity for expanded bottom land production if needed. As you can see, I consider water availability to be paramount to homesteading.

Another addition was two inexpensive metal sheds to stockpile hay/feed for livestock during good years. That which isn't fed after the second year is composted for the gardens. About $4500 for both sheds; good insurance (but some of the neighbors hate them).

I detailed our latest water development project over at Greer's Green Wizard forum: http://www.greenwizards.org/?q=node/1639. As folks can see, this sort of project doesn't have to be very expensive, though it does require a bit of foresight and determination. My wife used to tease me about how I stockpile anything that can hold, pump or pipe water. No more. I still have a 600 gallon and a 1600 gallon cistern behind the barn, ready for my next project. With our two ponds and several thousand gallons of other storage, I hope to persist.

Best hopes for those who are facing severe drought. Some areas will simply be too dry to carry on, but carry on we must. Good luck, all...