Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In the Jailhouse Now

My longtime friends might remember stories from our last epic drought (2008-2009).  Worse than the dust-bowl 1950's it was, in fact the worst drought on record here.

The last 7 months in the Hill Country have been drier.  Until last week, we'd had 1 1/2 inches of rain for the period.  Now the total is 3 inches.  We're grateful for the recent 1 1/2 inches, even though it wasn't enough to close the cracks in the clay.

On the USDA's color-coded Drought map, here, we're shown in dark brown, called Exceptional Drought.  A third or more of Texas is.  The rest of the state is in the lesser categories from Abnormally Dry - Extreme Drought. 

I see the hardship in the hummingbirds flocking to our feeders and flowers.  Few wildflowers this year, so home gardens and feeders are lifesavers.  We're making a quart of food a day, sometimes more, and my sugar water total is way ahead of this time in prior years. 

And the deer...I see deer like shadows in the thicket behind the house, reaching for pungency previously spurned, junipers and persimmons harsh in the second chewing. 

We fenced our front porch plantings, after the Dwarf Barbados Cherry (that deer don't eat), was chewed every night.  

Okay, you can laugh.  I tried bamboo stakes before we put up the really ugly fence.

Now the pineapple sage outside the fence--they don't eat it, really!--is chewed to nubs and flower spikes sheered off Gregg's Blue Mist, magnet to Queen butterflies.

Turk's cap, the aromatic, slightly prickly butterfly, sphinx moth  and hummingbird favorite, eaten to the ground.  This picture is from last year.
We have new investments these days--mesh fencing and chicken wire. My front porch plantings look like they're in jail.

Please--dance, sing, pray, whatever you do and believe, for rain.

Copyright 2009-2011 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. I sure hope our deer don't get that desperate. There's no way to fence off my front yard plantings.

  2. Great points! But sad when they eat everything, short of becoming carnivores. Same experience in the desert w/ rabbits. I cannot tell you how many clients and ex-clients think I can specify plants that nothing touches, rejecting paying for temporary fencing. Yes, I hope we both get some nice soaking rain, somehow defying the odds or normals.

  3. Drought makes me shiver inside -- there is something so scary about it.

  4. Prayers you got, and if you want some our rain, you're welcome to all you can get to Texas. I won't make you take the tornadoes, though. If I spend any more time in my basement this Spring, I'm going to turn into a Morlock.


  5. This is a scary drought.
    I do feel sorry for the deer. We have more babies,,,more mouths to feed,,,now. They're finding something to eat, somewhere. They're leaving my salvia alone. Chewing on some yuccas, though.
    It's hard to know what they'll eat, and what they won't.
    They obviously don't read the lists.

  6. Very nice blog Kathleen! Well organized, written and nice pics.
    I am in Hill Country also - a lot of us water folks are beginning to feel that we may be in the same drought - from 2008 - to present, with one variable year of 2010. Hope and pray it does not extend much longer, but forecasts do not look good. I disagree that present drought is worse than Drought of Record (lasting from 1948 to 1957 in some areas) which due to its extreme length and severity, along with the lack of some present lakes, aquifer storage systems and many good conservation measures - was terrible. I know, too long a sentence! Read Elmer Kelton's great novel on that drought and its effects upon ranchers "The Time It Never Rained". Any bad drought, one year or ten years, will now affect us worse and more quickly due to the much greater population and water demands.
    Keep up your great writing! Thanks, MikeKerr

  7. Kathleen Love,
    I wish I could send you some of our rain. We've had nothing but rain here in Ohio for the past two months or so. I'm sick to death of it.

    Thank you for feeding the hummingbirds. I love them too!


  8. We have cracks in our drive that I'm sure reach half way to China! I'm going to need to find a solution be fore they get any worse...*: (

  9. We've had a reprieve here, with 3.5" of rain. Sorry more of it didn't fall on your place! I, too, had felt a little sorry for the deer eating my coneflower blooms, and the thirsty hummingbirds. Boy, the butterflies are scarce.

  10. Wow. . . it's been so wet and rainy here that we're almost constantly having flash flood and severe thunderstorm warnings. I'll be praying that some of our wetness gets sent your way. Poor little critters! I'm sure your garden is just as lovely in jail. . . lol!

  11. We had a litte rain storm here in Houston this week but it was hardly enough to lay the dust. I'm doing a rain dance this weekend. Let's hope it works.

  12. Add to that list pittosporum. The deer have to walk up on the patio to get to this lovely foundation plant--never nibbled before until the last few days,

  13. Hi Kathleen, I found your blog from Pam at Digging. I too live in the hill country and praying for rain every day.
    Luckily I have a deer fence for the back but in the front I have an agave plant I thought was safe, but I saw yesterday the deer have started chewing on the edges. They are so desperate for something to eat. Its got to rain soon.

  14. I echo the above comments in that we have had an abundance of rain and then some here..

    I'll keep you in my thoughts Kathleen. Well , I already do of course :)

    crazy mama busy of late.. missing the regular routines , but this is life sometimes..



  15. Wish we could send you some of our rain. You've taken on quite a responsibility feeding all the hummingbirds in Texas! Good luck!

  16. Did not know Turk's cap was fragrant. Will have to go a-sniffing.


My readers are all geniuses. Can't wait to see what you have to say.