Dryest Summer on Record?

Burnt grass and foliage in Gettysburg from this morning

Burnt grass and foliage in Gettysburg from just this morning

This is the dryest summer that I can remember. I don’t know whether it’s the dryest on record for this area or not. Gettysburg climate only differs slightly from Westminster, Maryland. But Westminster, Baltimore, and Lancaster have all gotten a lot more rain than here, and Westminster is only 30 minutes away.

I asked dad if he remembers it ever being this dry back on the old farm he grew up on. He said he remembers some droughts, but nothing this bad.

Our trees are turning yellow, our stream is down to barely a trickle, and I keep worrying about our well since it is only 17 feet deep. I am strongly hoping that whatever is feeding our well is also staying at a trickle or more until we can get some decent rain around here.

The drive down to Frederick every day along route 15 is wrought with BURNT (not just dry, BURNT) trees, brown trees, dead trees, dying trees. I -know- I have never seen things this bad before. The drought coupled with intense regular temperatures in the 106 range have created an onslaught of damage.

Dad mowed down our corn Sunday. It was all dead from lack of water, so we have no corn this year. Tomatoes are doing okay, better now that we’ve gotten a submersible pump for the stream. Potatoes I have no clue yet, we’ll try to dig some up and see. I’ll be semi heart-broken if the potatoes are all dead as those are a large staple in our house.

I had many plans for canning this year.

Going through a drought this long (I’d say…maybe 1 or 2 significant rains since May, the rest mainly insignificant sprinkles or instant thunderstorms that last maybe 5 minutes at most but still don’t provide enough water to quench deep down in the plants), I’ve observed a few places that we could better prepare, and then others that will always remain hopeless in such extreme cases.

For example:

1. Rain Barrels – Rain barrels are a great concept of using a lot of under-utilized water. Our roofs provide so much water in a short amount of time, you can fill a rain barrel in a matter of minutes with a good rain. But you need a -lot- of rain barrels for them to be much worth around here. Watering the amount of plants and animals we do, we’d go through a rain barrel in a matter of 2 days. And this drought has lasted several months, and this doesn’t account for human use either.

So while rain barrels help, they don’t help nearly enough unless you have a LOT of them. I do plan to get more.

2. Submersible pump – Great asset to have, wish we had the means for it sooner. But doesn’t do much when the creek is down to trickle.

However, an adjustment in pockets of water could help. Dad is planning to get a bobcat over here and create a swimming pocket in one part of the stream that is surrounded by these big beautiful rocks. The deeper the pocket, the more water available for using the pump to water the garden. If we have several pockets, then we’ll have several reserve “wells” of water once the rains come again.

The downside, however, the pump will likely empty them out pretty fast in this type of drought.

I also don’t like that we only have an electric pump. I’ve always wanted a manual pump, but dad said it would be too much work. Well I figure that, but what happens if the electricity is out? Not too long ago the electricity blew out at work because of extreme heat melting the wires. It -is- possible. I still plan to get a manual pump anyway, I enjoy that type of a “work-out”.

Getting to Know the Land and a Horseshoe

Since I was home a little early yesterday, I decided to take some time to play in the stream with Bastian. It really is a beautiful stream, there are even some minnows in a few spots. It needs some cleaning up of some small amounts of trash around the edges (not sure if it washes down stream or what), and some branches that have been swept down stream. There are also a lot of thorn bushes along part of it that I’d like to clear some out so I can open up the stream more for resting (that’ll be a pain).

Dad says there’s a peaceful spot up the stream further in the woods that I’ll probably go check out at some point. I’m amazed at the amount of rocks around here. BIG rocks. We never had rocks like this down in Carroll County. I really like them.

Dad says he found an old horse-shoe in the garden. No clue if it was from a horse in the civil war or not, but I’m willing to bet it is more than likely simply because there’s an old civil war hospital two houses down from us. I want to get my uncle over with his metal detector and see what else is buried here.