As the mercury (well ok so we don’t use mercury any more but it sounds good) rises the thoughts swirl and toss around in the hot air.
I distinctly remember the afternoon. A hot wind rushed across the dry prairies and the sun beat down relentlessly. The thunderclouds built up quickly from the west and as the rain started to hurtle out of the sky we all streaked into the house. The storm raced closer and the sound intensified. The rain turned to hail, large golf ball size, and it pummeled anything it fell upon. The imagine of my father crying has never left me. His entire quarter section of crops were wiped out. I also recall, not so fondly, that I wasn’t very good natured about receiving some much needed clothes as my Christmas present that year. In hindsight it was probably all they could manage as the weather stripped them of a harvest.
The hot ripe raspberry explodes into my tastebuds. The smell is just as delightful as the taste. It’s one of the few aspects of the garden that looks good and seems to be on track for an average year. First year doing a superb job mulching has not bettered the sorts of results I had hoped for. The intense heat and lack of moisture is limiting growth.
Each step forward results in a dry crunching sound. The native grasses fade under the intense sun. The stunted buffalo beans failed to produce their vibrant yellow flowers and are now shriveled up dried leaves. The wolf willow is the lone outrider that seems to be flourishing. 7 of our 8 bodies of water (slough or pond or whatever your local word is) have disappeared and the last one potentially has blue green algae. The saskatoons are sparse. The late May snow storm, the wind laden spring followed by unseasonable heat early on in the growing season has taken a toll.
It’s a longer story (which could probably be a full blog post full of swear words and most readers would probably be bored to tears reading about cow chases and idiots) and I won’t go into all the details but let’s just, for a second, start at the beginning and do a fast version. 16 yearling heifers and 1 bull in a pasture that is bone dry and appears to have not a spare blade of grass on it (down the road a ways). It was a 4 day saga of unruly heifers running amuck in several crops, hay fields and pastures plus a bull that just wanted to go home but didn’t seem smart enough to know how he got through our fence. The end result was that both our hay crop and native prairie were driven on repeatedly. I might add, with a cranky undertone, that while I did give him permission to drive on the hay field when he was chasing the cattle I never gave him permission to drive in our pasture and nor did he ask if 2 trucks and a quad were allowed. In an “ordinary” year the moisture would help the plants bounce back. There will be zero bouncing back out there this season and we can only hope for late rains or heavy snow.
I’m thankful that our hay isn’t our primary source of income. I feel for farmers of all types and ranchers all across North America as this heat dome takes a toll. I know, all to well, how devastating a crop loss can be. I understand drought, wet years and extreme weather like tornadoes and plough winds. These events come and go.
But…. that’s not what this is. This is climate change. Pure and not simple at all. Complex and demanding that we step up to the plate and take action.
Look no further than the unprecedented amount of forest fires burning in Canada (likely North America but I don’t know stats for that). Tuesday we had 107 fires in Saskatchewan and now we have 131. That’s 2 days. Whole communities are on evacuation order and the air quality throughout the province is affected. We don’t even make the national news with those numbers because both B.C. and Ontario are in even more dire straights. Temperatures are consistently above normal and rain fall – what is that? We had our last rain on June 10th as the 5 mins of a light sprinkle we received today barely registers.
So what are you doing? Our biggest change this year is that we are swapping out our gas guzzling SUV for a hybrid. Not ready to go full electric mostly because of long distance travel and battery issues. Plus one needs to ensure that the electricity they use is clean. Which leads to fuel sources.
In 2016, the Government of Canada decided to phase out the use of coal-fired power plants by 2030 in order to meet its Paris climate agreement commitments. BUT… we are still exporting coal to other countries. There are currently 3 open pit mines in Saskatchewan still in operation while both BC and Alberta have significantly larger numbers of them.
So while we, the little guy, do our part I am not sure that the government or the big players are doing their share. Pretty sure this could easily become a rant about how politicians and bureaucrats only pay lip service to voters and then do what they want. Rather like they are with indigenous rights to clean water, equal education and a host of other areas that need addressing.
Well this was the exact opposite of a wordless Wednesday post! I’ve actually been working on it for a few days as time permits and the words come. Typical of a summer post for me. It’s a bit long winded and short on pictures but what the hay.