Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Is It Spring Yet?

At Rainbow's End Farm here in North Texas, we're making a slow transition into deep autumn.

Mild weather over the last few weeks and some lovely, lovely rain after this summer's record-breaking heat and drought have the fauna in a tizzy. Tender grass is cropping up, trying to get re-established as morning temperatures flirt with freezing. Even the forsythia seems confused. I'm concerned the drought may have taken out one of the shrubs, but the other has popped out a few tentative blooms nearly three months early. If the plants are using up their resources in a pseudo-spring burst of energy, what will the real spring bring?

The trees that didn't drop their leaves during the summer drought have clung to them long past normal. Not only isn't there much fall color this year, there aren't many leaves to rake yet. Suburbanites would no doubt rejoice over that reprieve, but I try to put a few dozen bags up to keep the goats happily munching away throughout the winter, and I need to put them up dry, not cold and damp.

It's always something.

The photo at the top of this post is of my front yard. The large live oak that dominates the view is one of the few trees showing fall color right now. Live oaks actually retain their leaves over winter and drop them in the spring, which usually means more tasty leaves for the horses and goats just before the grasses get into full growing gear. I love how nature thinks ahead like that.

And since most of us are thinking leftovers right after Thanksgiving, here are a couple of leftover pictures I found as I'm clearing out the albums getting ready for 2012.

The summer harvest of crabapples from the tree in my backyard. I made crabapple-sauce with some of these, but the majority were fed out as treats to the goats and horses.
A roadrunner on the ramp to my porch. During the worst of the drought, a pair of them would come to drink out of the water bowl I left out for Magic, the cat, and any other passers-by who needed it.
 The horses seem convinced the coming winter will be a cold one and are growing in their winter coats accordingly. I'll have pictures next week of how my guys transform into shaggy mountain ponies 5 months out of the year.

Are there other pictures of the farm you'd like to see?


Wilkins MacQueen said...

Hi Phoenix,
I don't believe YOU resisted puppies! Good for you if you were able to hold back.

Season confusion? This world is getting weird.

I would love to know if you got enough moisture to heal the land cracks.

Very interesting with the drought your crab apples, uh, came to frution. I didn't think anything would bear fruit with that heat/dry.

Bees: In the Maritime Provinces, sages believed if the bees/hornets set up high for the winter there would be a lot of snow. Any stingies there that you can read predict the winter with?

And if you have to buy hay, what prices are you looking at? Do you use a mix of timothy/alfalfa or a fescue mix? Curious what you'll be giving the critters. Do you buy big round bales and fork it out or go with squares?

Luckily minnies don't eat much, but hay is always a cost to be born over winter.

Don't envy anyone feeding critters in your neck of the woods this year. Tough all the way without decent rain to get a crop off.

If hay is costly will you supplement with cubes or can you get oat straw or some other substitute?

Phoenix Sullivan said...

Hi Mac! We're getting a lot of rain right now, so I hope the lesser cracks will be healed soon. A couple of them, though, will need to be hand-filled, I think.

The crab apples got their biggest growth spurt in the late spring before the drought kicked in unlike the pears that don't usually start to ripen before late August.

Interesting about the bees and hornets. I actually noticed fewer hornets and wasps this year, more bumble bees (which have been on the decline), and fewer regular bees. Fewer wasp nests around the house, but I don't know where all the other stingies are nesting.

My newest post talks about feed for the beasts. I paid $11 a bale last month for 6 bales; luckily, I also had a 10% off coupon. Go Tractor Supply store!

Thanks for asking! And for sending some of your excess rain this way ;o)