State of the Farm

Last month I told you we were working on a January 7th forecast of heavy rain. They were wrong — we got a ½ inch. BUT, roughly 10 days later, we did get heavy rain, resulting in a 2.8 inch layer at Jolie Vue. Now that is heavy rain, though we would gladly take much more. We actually had some runoff into the big pond which hasn’t happened in a long while. And we have a chance for more before the month of January ends. (It didn’t happen.)

As I write on February 6, we are in a “heavy rain” forecast and the radar seems to support that. The only “if” is whether it passes too far south of us, covering Houston and on up to Hempstead but not reaching Brenham-North. Regardless, we seem to be getting more of these chances for heavy rain and that is good news. We could get spring grasses following our winter crop. Wouldn’t that be lovely! As I write this last installation before going to print, the “heavy rain” again turned out to be a ½ inch. But we are getting a lot of rain-day predictions for the month so we are hopeful that we are seeing the start of a spring rain cycle that will pop some grasses in late March and forward.

We get by on less rain this time of year for 2 reasons: evaporation happens more slowly and the winter grasses do not require as much moisture as summer grasses.  The latter point has nothing to do with the genetics of winter vs. summer grasses but instead is all about how moisture is used by the grass. In the summer heat, 99% of stored moisture is used to keep the grass cool. So less is needed under the more temperate weather of fall, winter and spring. Think about this in terms of our sweating - you need a lot more water when working out in the summer, right? But if you get dehydrated, you will be sick - your cooling mechanism is out of fuel. Same thing with grass.

Living through this drought, it is very odd to remember the ‘90's when we endured regular flash flooding, closed roads, the danger of broken dams on our ponds, trees falling over because the soil was too wet to hold it up. Oh to have those problems again! And you’d better believe we grew some grass under those circumstances. The good ol’ days.

So is this global warming? That seems an easy question to answer - yes. The harder question is how and whether humankind is causing or contributing to it. I’ve a friend who is a Ph.D Physics guy. He says the science is actually easy if you assume that enlarging the ozone layer is the problem. If that is the direct cause, says he, then there is no doubt but that the earth’s emissions contribute to the dissipation of ozone. There is a lot of cost and anguish to yet be dealt with if that is the case. Better for our psyche to hope for a miracle turnaround.

In the meantime the more moderate temperatures we are enjoying make it easier to grow the winter grasses. In fact, the peach trees are in full early bloom at the farm and the Azaleas in the city are popping flowers too. Very unusual...very early. Should we expect this as the new normal?   Expect change and adjust. That’s life, right?