Hard to believe the difference

slowpoke_gardenerNovember 24, 2011

I went up to invite my neighbor to dinner and had noticed his garden was still going. You can tell the cool weather had not done it any favors, but it is at least still alive.

It is Thanksgiving Day and my first killing frost was 10-20., over a month ago. My neighbor lives less than a mile from me, but about 300 feet higher, he is also on the western slope of a mountain.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Sometimes height and western exposure can give a strange micro climate that is warmer than surrounding territories. I am warmer than my neighbor, sometimes by 10 degrees. She is about 400" lower and 3 miles away. She froze in october also and I did not. I got to 34. I think she got to 27 degrees. This anomally happens in the early winter and evens out as the cold fronts deepen and the land cools and looses its summer heat . I have a theory The cold air sinks and the Mountain is warm from the built up summer heat and it is still radiating that heat off and heat rises through the mass of the mountain and radiate off of it from its top.Get my drift?. As the winter deepens the mountain cools and the deviance between the two sites on the top and bottom equalizes out. My mountain is not a big mountain , more of a tall hill.My neighbor is always colder than me except on really windy nights where the wind acts like a cap on her valley holding the days heat in, and it just sucks the days warmth away from me. That won't happen till january or so. Does this make any sense to you, or am I just a weather addicted hallucinator.

I have a thermometer in my car and I am always fascinated by how it drops and rises as I drive through the Hill Country of Central texas.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 2:37AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

OOPS, i mean 400' not 400" in that entry above. I probably have other mistakes in there too.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 2:39AM
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It's not fair is it? Our first killing freeze was the same as yours and Carol way up north--but close to the lake--didn't get it. And we are on the south side of a hill. Usually the valley a mile south of us freezes a couple weeks ahead of us. Not this year.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 8:59AM
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seeker1122(7a ok)

I'm a beliver I still have plants producing.
I live at the top of a giant hill.
No rain all summer or this fall. I left the other
day heading north and The north part of town was getting rain I didn't get a drop.
On the news when it says 30-40 mph wind I get 50-80 easy.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 9:17AM
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I also think that you are correct and later in the winter you lose the advantage. We are on a hill which is also a rather high ridge above the water level of the lake, and Grand Lake is a large body of water. It has now been cold enough that most things are gone except for the horseradish, some berry plants and my tubs of lettuce and other greens. However, the peppers that have been wrapped in lightweight row cover are still green and beautiful, so with very little protection I think I could add almost a month at the end of the normal growing season. I wanted to try broccoli in the fall, but when it was time to get it started this year it was so hot and dry that I just didn't want to bother.

I live just a few miles from the Missouri state line, so I am in the far northeast corner of the state. One spring, Dawn got a late frost in Love County and had to protect her early plantings and I had also planted and didn't get that cold. One day in October, Al and I went to visit two families in the county, one lives in the SE part of the county and the other lives right by the Mesonet station in the center of the county. The only things left in their gardens were the plants that they had heavy covers on. One had used a tarp on her tomatoes, and where it had touched the plants was frozen although below about the top twelve inches the plants had been protected and were covered with big red tomatoes. At my house near the water, I picked peppers until about a week ago on plants that have had no covering, but they are gone now and only the covered ones remain.

I seem to lose the advantage of being near the water and my tubs of lettuce and green leafy things that I plant in the fall begins to freeze out around the middle of December. I may have to cover it a few nights before that, but starting about that time, the daytime temps remain low so I stop trying to protect it. I planted very late this year so the plants are still small, but they are growing in nursery tubs near a south wall that is protected on the other three sides.

Although we didn't have the severe drought that most of the state had, we still had the driest summer that we have had for the 10 years I have lived here. We always have Spring rains and this year was no exception. The fall rain has been good and we have had about 45 inches for 2011 so far. Gardening here is very different from where I grew up in southern Oklahoma and where I again lived for 12 years prior to moving here. It seems that each year I learn a little more about gardening here. My plan for next year is to plant some crops under low tunnels and see how that works. Insects are much more of an issue for me than the weather is.

Dorothy, It does seem odd when things are still green here and I am so much farther north than you. Most of the ornamental plants are now in that very ugly stage when they have had some freeze damage but it hasn't effected the entire plant, so I have elephant ears, canna, hollyhocks, a banana tree, etc. that have some brown leaves and other leaves that are still green and healthy. Most of the trees are bare after the winds and heavy rains we had for a few days.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 1:10PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Larry, What a difference! I have that here too. My friend, Fred, is on significantly higher ground about a mile from us and he probably gets an extra month of growing season in the spring and another one in the fall compared to what we have down here in the lower lying area. He loves to come by and harass me in the spring because my planting is so far behind his since I have to worry a lot more about late freezes or frosts than he does.

Wantonamara, I do understand what you're saying about the weather and the difference that mountain makes.

My whole family has become weather-obsessed since moving here, but it is because the weather is often so cruel here. When we lived in Fort Worth, we just did not watch and study the weather there like we have to here. We have outdoors thermometers in 5 different places on the acre or two nearest our house, all in the shade at the same height above the ground, and they rarely show the exact same temperature at any given time, though sometimes they are pretty close.

Carol, The oddest thing about living here is that we didn't start having those dreadful, terribly late freezes until after 2005. Prior to that I was planting tomato plants the first or second week in March and having to cover them up maybe once or twice in late March or early April. In more recent years, we're having the ridiculous late freezes or frosts the first week of May. I want our old weather back!

There have been a couple of years where the rows of tomato plants alongside the southern fence of the garden had no frost or freeze damage at all after an unexpectedly cold night, and the row of tomato plants in a lower-lying bed 30' away froze back to the ground. The difference? Slightly higher ground, but only a couple of feet higher.

We still have a lot of green here, including some leaves on some trees that just refuse to acknowledge that it is almost winter and they need to lose their leaves. The 4 o'clocks finally froze back to the ground, but we still have clary sage and Laura Bush petunias in bloom. To the great delight of the cats, catnip is growing like gangbusters and we have dandelions in bloom. What else would you expect in a crazy, mixed-up year like this one has been?

Our trees in general in this area are mostly bare now, but in any low-lying creek hollow or valley type area, a lot of the native trees have been sheltered enough that they aren't losing many, if any, leaves yet. It is very odd. Acorns are piling up everywhere though and they've been falling for weeks even if the leaves aren't.

I plant to grow a lot under low tunnels next year too, but more as protection from late cold than from bugs. The chickens usually control most of the bugs pretty well, and they got a lot of help this year from the wild birds. Eventually, though, they all got sick of eating grasshoppers.

Since we have had such great autumn rainfall, we are very green now, even though our rainfall is only half of what we normally have in an average year. Not that we ever seem to have an average year.....


    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 4:56PM
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Dawn, Just keep telling yourself it is global warming while you're covering those plants in May. LOL

I don't have much of a problem with grasshoppers but there isn't a lot of open pasture land very close to me. At my son's house the grasshoppers are horrible. I do have a Japanese Beetle problem but I really don't know what I can do about that one except wait it out. I have some things, like eggplant that I have to keep covered until the flea beetles leave.

The last couple of years I have had lots of squash bugs and year before last I had vine borers. I let the chickens run in the garden all winter and didn't plant much squash this year, but the squash bugs did hit what I planted but I didn't have any borers. Some years I have lots of cucumbers and other years the bugs take them out just as they start producing. I feel like I need to have a cage around my garden.

I almost never see more than a few lady bugs, but one year I had aphids and the lady bugs did follow, but they were a little too late to save the crop. I think several crops would benefit from being covered until the plants are large enough to fight off the insect attacks.

Hornworms have never been a problem for me and I think I have only found 7 total since I have lived here and they were all in the same year. Five were on container plants in the yard and 2 in the garden and it was very late in the season.

It would really be nice to be able to grow nice healthy vegetables and not have to worry about the bug problems.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 6:08PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I don't think being weather addicted is more prevalent as you head north. I think it is prevalent when you get out of the cities. We might get our first frost tomorrow,.... but I don't feel it in my bones yet. My husband has 3 of those thermometer stations and each one has three thermometers that we place all around. One to tell us when it is freezing on the north west side of the building where our pipes are exposed, one in the pump house, Vegetable garden, wood shop, and paint studio. we have ones under trees and here and there. We can check the stations in the office where he has the modems mounted. He loves his gadgets. I like that gadget.

We keep our collective eyes on the weather. Today , I had my eyes on the wind. We are huge piles of brush. It rain last night and we had mud for the first time in a year. We have been slower to get rain than y'all in OK. Hell, People 10 miles from me got more rain than me and people just to the west of me. We are up to 8" for the year after last night 3/4". I miss the Texas gully washers.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 12:46AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I'd like to think it is an odd weather anomaly and not global warming, but I am starting to wonder.

Squash bugs seem hit or miss here. I didn't have any this year, and didn't have any SVBs either, though I usually have the SVBs at some point every year. Bugs are more of a problem for me in an exceptionally hot and dry year than in an average one. In a wet year, I don't have many bug problems at all because the beneficial bugs are around in such huge numbers.

It would be nice to not have to worry about bugs, but they'll always be with us. I just try to encourage enough beneficials to stick around so they can control the bad bugs.

Our freezes have been so odd. We've been below freezing several times, and as cold as 22 or 23 on a couple of nights with very heavy frost but we still have green bermuda grass and, while some plants have frozen from the top down bit by bit, the underneath portions are green and blooming. We also have a surprising number of trees with some green leaves, and most of them normally would have lost all their leaves by now.

All the usual cool-season forbs that generally sprout here in November or December started sprouting in October and if we don't have a really hard freeze or two soon, I'm going to have henbit and larkspur blooming before Christmas. They usually don't bloom until January or February.

High wind always makes me nervous when we have dry, dormant vegetation, but we haven't had any really bad grassfires and no wildfires here since sometime in September, so I am feeling more relaxed about the fires now than I was back then. The grassfires we've had lately have been pretty easy to extinguish and have been put out before they were able to burn too many acres.

When I lived in Fort Worth, it was a really sheltered location on the side of a long, sloping hill and the neighborhood was over 50 years old, so we had huge trees everywhere and they gave us a lot of shelter from wind and hail. I just didn't pay attention to the weather unless we had tornado warnings or something. Here, though, we watch the weather like a hawk because in recent years, it seems like the weather is getting wilder and doing more damage than it used to. Or, maybe we just hear about it all a lot more because of the 24-hour-a-day news that's available now.

Eight inches of rain is just so sad. I guess you haven't had a good gullywasher or toadstrangler in a long time.

Although we have had at least 10" of rain since early September, the cracks in the ground are not all healed up and closed yet, but they are not nearly as big as they were before the rain started falling.

We continue to have bits of rainfall almost every week, so I am starting to feel hopeful we'll have adequate moisture in the soil when spring planting time rolls around. Of course, the rain could stop any time and kill my hopes for a good spring. We are at the point that I think in the next couple of weeks, our county, or at least our part of our county, may work its way up from Extreme Drought to only Severe or Moderate Drought. That might not seem so wonderful, but after months of Extreme to Exceptional Drought, Severe or Moderate Drought is a huge improvement. Maybe we'll get really lucky and work our way back to being only abnormally dry!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 2:06PM
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We haven't heard nearly as much about global warming the last few years. Now it's "climate change." I was reading somewhere the other day that the climate has actually been cooling since 07. (05 for Dawn) And I know that for the last several years my early daffs have been blooming later--in mid-Feb rather than late Jan as they did for a while. (Jan of 06 was really warm) So I am withholding judgement concerning the whole idea for now. And yes, I think it is absolutely true that country people pay a lot more attention to the weather than city folks. With the heat island effect in the city, we have worse weather in the winter and better in the summer, I think. (The critics of the global warming theory believe that many temp readings over the last years were taken too close to concrete walls and parking lots. Wish I knew more about that.)

However that may be, it looks like winter is finally upon us with temps consistently below freezing for the next week. I am so glad that the sun finally shone enough to warm up the greenhouse. I will go out and cover the bench that has the tender plants on it this evening anyway. The cold hardy plants in the ground will be ok for a while.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 5:25PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


As a more-than-casual observer of the weather, I truly believe that the hotter than usual/drier than usual years that have plagued us in the 2000s, and especially since the mid-2000s, are a clear sign of some sort of climate change. I guess the question in my mind, though, is whether it is merely a drier-than-average decade like Texas, Oklahoma and much of the southwest had in the 1950s or if it is a sign of a longer-term change that's been creeping up on us for a while, like the advocates of global warming/climate change believe is occurring. Who knows?

I have read some of the arguments that what scientists report as signs of global warming/climate change might just be differences in the locations of increasingly urbanized temperature reporting stations that are affected by reflected heat. I don't know, though, how that could be responsible for all the various signs of an increasingly warmer globe, like the icebergs melting and less frozen ocean area or more thaws in the Artic Ocean area. How about all the dry years in Texas and Oklahoma stacked one on top of each other? And Russia's record-breaking temps in 2010 and Oklahoma's record-breaking temps in 2011? I would find it hard to argue that nothing is going on because clearly something is happening.

I've never been a big believer in the concept of accelerated global warming. These last few years have made me wonder, though, if it might be occurring. There is so much we don't really know about ancient history.

There is a wonderful article in Texas Monthly magazine's latest issue about the wildfires and drought in Texas this year. A couple of points that stuck with me: scientists studying tree rings found a very long period of drought in Texas in the 16th century. And, as a native Texan, I only remember 1 big wildfire near Fort Worth before we moved here in 1999. I don't remember any in any other part of Texas, but likely that's because I wasn't paying attention. However, the article in Texas Monthly magazine made me realize how much the big, raging wildfires are a more recent development. Texas has had 18 wildfires that burnt 50,000 acres or more in its recorded history. Twelve of those wildfires happened in 2011, and 5 of the remaining 6 occurred in the 2000s. Only 1 happened prior to 2000. That's a pretty amazing statistic from a state that is mostly too hot and too dry pretty much every summer. Is some sort of climate change behind those wildfire statistics?

Whatever it is that is occurring, I sure miss being able to plant earlier, and I hate having to cover up tender vegetation in May. I even kinda miss the flooding and having water standing everywhere for weeks, especially when the alternative is that the ground cracks and looks more like something you'd see in Ethiopia instead of southern OK. I guess we all just have to adjust and roll with the punches. One thing I know for sure is that I am glad we are not a farming or ranching family that relies on agriculture for our livelihood. These hot, dry years are making it really hard for the farmers and ranchers to make a good living.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 6:24PM
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I believe there is something to global warming and one of the big issues with me is the erratic weather, it hard to know whether to plant carrots or cotton.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 8:04PM
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To be honest, my comment about global warming was said very 'tongue in check'. However, I do believe that there is something going on with the weather, but NOT global warming. One of the things that I notice is that we almost never have a good rain, it is a thunderstorm instead. There seems to be a lot of hail falling in a lot of places. Real storms seem to be more frequent. Tsunami seems to be a word that everyone knows the meaning of now. I just group it into one big prediction and call it 'the signs of the times'.

I could be wrong about global warming but it has always seemed like political science to me, rather than real science. As my husband always says, "Figures don't lie, but liars figure", and I think this is no exception.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 8:48PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

About the science AND POLITICS of global warming. This week, Another 5000 emails between the CRU (Climate Research Unit) and Un. of Penn State was released showing a whole bunch of politicized and questionable science that is going on. Complete with CRU "scientist" pursuing Goldman Sacs backing for a way to make it profitable decades ago.. these people are getting scientist fired because they won't toe the line of the "cause".All in the emails. I used to be a believer and now I am a sceptic. There is too much hanky panky going on to not be a sceptic.

And yes the world is cooling and there is a solar reason or two or three for the cooling, remember that big guy in the sky, the sun. These other scientist say the cooling cycle will last 35 years and we will have a preponderance of la Ninas during that time. So it sounds like cold winters and hot dry summers. We are 10 years into this cycle during which time we have had a preponderance of la ninas.. We are having weather, the old fashion way, marked by cyclical drought, warming and cooling. It has been going on this way since the beginning of time. We were warmer than we are now in the medieval ages. The global warming guys got that wrong too, and wrote that "inconvenient truth" out of their figures.

There is a lot of conflicting science that has been dismissed by the reigning climatologist (that can't even do a computer model right) that should get a listen too and not just arbitrarily dismissed as it does theses days as crack pots and ignoramuses.

OOps I got off topic. Ignore me or dismiss me as a ignorant crack pot.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 10:20PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Back to topic. The temperature at the weather station on Wunderground.com which is 1.3 miles from me and 150' feet lower at 1230' in altitude was 30.6F and we at 1385' were 34.5F. Another station at 1282' was at 33F. Anyway, It appears I still have not frozen. Yea.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 11:48AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I don't think you're ignorant, or a crack pot either.

Like everything else that has become highly politicized, the climate change issue is a confusing one. After reading and reading on both sides of the issue, I still don't know what to believe about global warming or cooling or climate change. I used to just ignore the whole issue, but after reading about it endlessly on Dr. Masters' blog at Wunderground, I starting thinking to myself "well, something is happening". I don't know what that something ultimately will be called when the history of this era is written, but I know what my eyes tell me, and they tell me we're seeing a lot more extremes in the weather, at least here in our part of Oklahoma. I guess we'll just have to deal with whatever we get, whether we're hotter and drier or wetter and colder or whatever.

I am not happy to hear we should expect a lot of La Ninas, but it is already happening, so I am not really surprised. Where is a good, old, sloppy wet El Nino when we need one? At least we know what to expect, if the scientists are right.

Now, if only y'all would get some more rain down there in Texas to green up whatever plants are surviving the drought and not yet frozen.

This morning, we had ice around the edges of the big pond. Not a lot of ice, but just right there along the shoreline. We went from having a pond with no water last week before the big 4"rainfall, to having a pond with about a foot of water in it (it catches a lot of rainfall from the slightly higher ground next door) to having water and a bit of ice this morning. Anything, even ice, looks better than the dry, cracked pond bottom we had to look at all summer long.

I'm not really a cold weather person at all, but even though it is cool during the day and downright cold at night, I am not going to complain or whine about it. After suffering through the hot summer of 2011, cold weather is just what we need to wipe out the memories of those days when it was 110 or 112 or higher. I remember well the summer of 1980 in Texas and thought we'd never see such extreme hot weather like that again, and I was wrong. 2011 surpassed 1980 in both temperature and dryness, and in plain old human, plant and animal misery. I guess now, the summer heat and the drought of 2011 will be the new yardsticks by which we measure future years.

Last winter was colder and snowier than usual at our house, so I am hoping for, but not expecting, better weather this winter. Usually, I am so busy with pre-Christmas activities (our VFD does a lot of community stuff in the fall/winter that keeps me hopping) that I don't notice the cold weather too much, but then once Christmas is over, I realize the really cold weather has arrived to stay....and then I start hoping for an early spring. Is it too early right now to start hoping for an early spring?

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 1:52PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I think we are judging our weather from having gone through 3 decades of deliciously mild weather. Our perspectives have been bent by the decades that preceded. We are now off into another cycle. We see this mild decade as the norm but it may be that it was the abnormal cycle and we are back to the norm of drought, heat and cold.The severity of Oklahoman weather has struck before. The dust bowl was preceded by a decade of moist mild weather that lead people to farm where none had farmed before and farmed massively and destructively on marginal soil when old timers kept calling the seemingly lush grassland, a semi arid desert. When drought struck, OMG, the rest is history. Cycles are the norm. When multi decadal cycles change, they are perceived as something that has never happened before because social memory is limited to what we can remember in our lifetime. That is why we have to listen to the old ones and listen to the legends and old stories. I just finished reading "The Worst Hard Time" about the Dust Bowl. WOW.

The "Cloud Mystery" has now been confirmed as a very workable theory by the Cern experiments. Here is a 6 utube video series. Do not be scared of by the subtitles at the beginning. It is 95% english with a scattering of Swedish at the very beginning. Between this, the Barycenter wobble of the sun and the solar minima, there are some massive changes happening and that are driven by the heavens above, if all or some of this is correct..There seems to be a convergence of different cycles happening. The Sun's Barycenter wobble is a 180 year cycle with a 35 yr cooling end that may be lengthened and accentuated by the deepest solar minima cycle in the century , 11 yr cycle. All of these cycles are pointing to cooling not warming on a whole. Then there is the fact that our little Earth spaceship is headed into a Milky way arm of the galaxy...Yikes. I hope that takes a while. ( a major cooling effect)

Here is a link that might be useful: The cloud Mystery videos

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 2:47AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

"The Worst Hard Time" is one of my favorite books. I reread it about once a year, particularly when the summer is hot and dry and I am feeling sorry for myself and my garden. Reading that book puts the current weather into historical perspective for me, because as hard as times may get now, it is nothing compared to what the folks faced during those years.

The story of the Dust Bowl years itself is not entirely new to me in a personal sense.

My dad was born in 1919 and his family were subsistence farmers (my dad described his family as poor, white sharecroppers) who raised everything dryland just a short distance from the Red River, down in Montague County, TX. It was a hard, hard living and my dad used to tell stories of how hard they struggled just to raise enough food to survive. In the few photos they have from that time, they all look emaciated. I always thought Dad and his siblings were exaggerating when they talked about those years, at least until I read "The Worst Hard Time" and it backed up their stories of the struggle to survive. I remember that he and his siblings told us often that they were poor during the Dust Bowl years, but everyone else was poor too, so they didn't feel deprived or anything. They'd never know prosperous times themselves.

My dad often said the second World War 'saved' his family from slow-but-sure starvation because it gave them a reason to leave the farm (he and his 6 brothers all entered the military) and make a different life for themselves in the post-war era.

I have been told by some of the old-timers here that our property used to be fine farmland until the windstorms of the Dust Bowl years carried away several feet of topsoil. So, the red clay 'topsoil' I have to deal with is really what was once the red clay subsoil underneath fine, sandy loam that raised great cotton and melons.

We do judge the weather by what we know and remember. I remember the 1960s anbd 1970s as being mild, wet years and we grew veggies, fruits, grasses, trees, flowers, etc. with so much less effort than it seems to require nowadays. Even the 1980s, with the exception of 1980, seem 'easy' to me in retrospect. I remember watering my yard and garden maybe once a week and just not having to worry about it drying up or burning up otherwise. I started having more trouble with the recurring droughts the last few years of the 1990s when we still lived in Texas and just after we moved here. Then, the 2000s arrived and since then it seems our dry years have outnumbered our wet years, and after each drought year, the land seems a bit slower to recover. We used to have lots of springs on our property, but I believe only 3 remain now. Some of the springs stopped running during drought years and never started running again. So far, the spring in our swamp has not started running again this year, leaving me to wonder if the swamp ever will be swampy again. The swamp has been sustained by our largest spring and I'd hate to think that one has dried up for good. Time will tell.

I find the cycles of the earth and sun fascinating, and that includes sunspots and their effects on the earth's weather cycles.

I would like to think 2011's drought is the worst one ever and that 2012's won't be worse, but only time will tell. I need a better garden plan for next summer because this year's drought just ate our lunch.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 9:12AM
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A few years ago I saw a documentary on PBS concerning the work of Israeli scientists over several decades measuring the amount of actual sunlight reaching the ground. (I think this study started in the 60s and carried on.) Over several decades they found that the light was decreasing over populated areas. They ascribed this to "Particulate Pollution," (mainly from airplane exhaust) and theorized that it was having a cooling effect on the earth. By the time they tried to publish their research, it had become politically unpopular and they had a hard time getting the message out there. It was a very interesting documentary. There are so many factors affecting our very complex weather patterns--not just carbon dioxide.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 10:03AM
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I don't think anyone has mentioned that during the Revolutionary War we were still in the grips of the Little Ice Age which lasted a long time. We entered a long warming period after that. We think of this recent warmer period as normal.

I read the "The Worst Hard Time" a few years back and it is what initially got me interested in planting prairie grasses. Later I just fell in love with how they look. That was also when I really started noticing with alarm the number of Eastern Red Cedars taking over grasslands nearly everywhere I looked. The American Indians were better land stewards than the European settlers. I love the term "White man's plants" that they used. That was what they called the new weeds we brought in when we changed the landscape and ecology forever.

In dealing with the conditions we face, planting native is a very good place to start. We have done enough damage importing plants that change the ecosystem, displace natives and need excess water to maintain.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 1:33PM
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I read "The Worst Hard Time" just this summer for the first time. I read it when I was having the worst of my asthma and allergy problems and I could almost 'feel their pain'. I wouldn't say that it is the best book I ever read because it jumps from family to family and is a bit hard to keep up with, but everyone should read it anyway so they have an appreciation for what those people went through. It is mind boggling to think they stayed there. Of course, some couldn't afford to leave and others had no place to go. I think some stayed because they believed it would get better.

I grew up in southern Oklahoma and my Mom always had a garden. I don't think she watered it much when I was a child. I remember that there was a faucet at the edge of the garden so I'm sure they probably did water some, but I just don't remember it being a big deal. Lots of people had melon patches and they were raised dry-land style.

I would love to see the cedar trees disappear from my neighborhood, but some people seem very attached to them. They will cut down the black walnut trees, and leave the cedars. I don't like the looks, the smell, their habitat for the ticks, or their explosive danger in a fire. I don't guess the water usage is a big deal in my area since the water level is so high here. My neighbor has a capped well right at the edge of my yard and I can see the water just a few feet down. We are all on city water, but all of the older houses have a well. Mine is under a building and I lived here a long time before I learned where it was.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 5:24PM
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The thing that affected me most deeply about the book "The Worst Hard Time" was the description of the eons of time and gradual building and layering it took for the grasslands to form. The description of how deep the native grass roots were, how rich and full of diversity the land was and how quickly and recklessly it was destroyed. As a result, we will never see this, one of the great natural wonders of the world like the Grand Canyon. It is now gone forever and cannot be put back. The comparison to the great oceans was heart breaking.

The part played by the railroads was shameful and they misled people with the theory of dry farming and attracting rain. They sent those pamphlets overseas and it was greed and self interest that caused this disaster. I cried when I read that first part of the book. I feel very protective and proud of our prairies now to the point of shooting off my mouth when I should keep quiet when I see people doing certain things.

The human suffering and endurance was a testament to man's survival. Its a good illustration of what real suffering is and it shames us when we read it. I loved the part when the dust storm came all the way to the east coast and the land expert said to look out the window trying to illustrate his case about how bad it was.

PBS put this book into the form of a documentary. I have it on disk.

I am also disturbed by the mass removal of prairie dogs. Have you ever read up on them and how they contribute to the grasslands and the ecosystem? Its another case of irresponsible treatment of the natural environment. I'm not a native plant purist by any stretch or a political tree hugger but these kinds of things upset me just the same especially when its my state.

I want to visit the remaining grassland parks up in the Four Corners area sometime. I have never driven up there into the panhandle. I need to go, seems every Oklahoma native plant I want grows up there when I look it up. Reminds me, I loved finding out in the book how and why we got the panhandle.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 6:56PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

WELL, It is official . I am now colder than my downhill neighbor. And its freezing out there. The difference is gone. One frozen pipe, unfrozen now. Back to a warm bed and a book.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 7:23AM
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