I've moved!

I've moved!

Thanks for stopping by, but it appears you are using a (very) old address for my blog. I've moved to a Wordpress site and you'll need to update your bookmarks for Bees on the Knob

I've moved!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rain, rain, glorious rain!

It's Raining!!!

OK, those of you in many parts of the country are probably tired of rain - but here we have been having a drought. It's the driest August in over 60 years (last I checked) and our local rivers are drying up: the French Broad is now at the lowest level ever recorded and the flow rate is less than 1/6 the median at this time of year, while lake levels are 16 feet below normal. After 10 years of severely below average rainfall, estimates are we need more than 3 feet above normal next year to get the water tables back where they belong.

Here, we have had 0.07" of rain this month - barely enough to measure and all of it in the first day or two of the month. The ground is cracking and even when you water a garden area it will be bone dry again in a day unless well mulched and even in mulched areas plants start looking wilted again in a couple of days. Areas that are not watered look much worse - berry vines look scorched and fruit trees are starting to show yellow leaves and are dropping fruit. After the same stress last year, some probably won't make it (joining the mature apple tree that died last year from the same stress). At least the grass has mostly stopped growing, reducing the number of times the fields and paths have to be mowed.

Not everything looks bad, tho - the muscadines continue to shrug off the heat and lack of water, as do the kiwis (which unfortunately have no fruit again this year; even a moderately late frost always does them in). Most nut crops look pretty heavy - it's nearly time for black walnuts to start dropping anyway and they always are the first to shed their leaves (often before it even hints of fall outside). Where watering has been practical (if not always affordable), the harvest isn't completely lost. We are still getting blueberries and a few grapes from one vine near the house (those in the orchard at least don't look dead this year, but are still sulking and have no fruit). And the apples and pears are now ready for harvest (and mostly still quite heavy, due to the early rain and the diligent work of our honeybees). Despite the lack of water, the figs are starting to come in (but are pretty small) and the pawpaw finished ripening it's fruit (4 total, two very large) -- perhaps in a year or two the smaller trees will bloom and join the larger one. The smallest is a year younger (a replacement tree for an early one that failed to make it thru winter), but both are under 4', despite being 7 and 8 years old. They really prefer some shade and wet feet -- instead, they get full sun in a hot, dry field and have been under drought conditions their entire lives, which has no doubt set them back a year or two in what is admittedly always a long maturity cycle (the first couple of years, they only had two leaves each and apparently only grew roots, staying at about 6" tall).

As for the bees themselves - they pass their days fanning on the front stoop and making trips to our (very) small pond and waterfall (which requires water every other day, after no fill-ups at all earlier in the year). I know exactly how they feel -- I've wished we had a pond big enough to cool off in several times this month (and that we had enough rain to keep it filled).

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