Last year was a hard year for farmers and ranchers in Texas. We experienced one of the most severe droughts that we’ve had in years. Thousands of acres burned in wild fires. Homes lost, animals lost, total devastation for some. Then as the year passed into Fall and Winter, a shortage of hay for our cattle. The farmers and ranchers directly impacted immediately, with some having to sell off all or most of their herds. The general public I’m afraid will begin to feel the effects of this drought in the Spring when there is very little cattle to send to the market.
A majority of the state felt the fallout from the drought through water restrictions. The ponds dried up, the lakes begin to dry up, and suburbia’s lawns started to dry up and wither. Then shrubs started to die and finally full size grown trees. Devastating. Even today certain areas are still under restrictions and will face far stricter restrictions this Spring if we don’t see some good rains soon.
We live on 50 acres and have always had a few head of cattle on our place. As of today we are down to two cows and a new calf. Finding hay has been a pain in the behind. We are constantly threatening to load them up and take them to market. But somehow we always seem to find what we need, just when we absolutely need it.
A couple of years ago we stocked our pond with bass, catfish, and minnows. Late in the Summer the pond dried almost completely up and was covered in fish bones. It was sad and disgusting. We gave up on the garden fairly early on. Plus we lost shrubs and trees. We aren’t even sure how many trees yet. Some we won’t really know until they start to leaf back out in the Spring. We are hoping that they were just stressed.
Now we have wild hogs wandering in and tearing up pastures and making a mess at the pond. Fortunately we have repaired most of the damage and have not seen any new signs of them. But you know they are out there. Just hanging out, waiting.
Then there was an article in the paper about a man getting bitten by a rattlesnake. Yes, we are having a little warm spell and I guess he wanted to sun himself a little, than snake not the man. The man was moving bags of feed and the snake got him on his hand. So that’s in the back of my head. Although I like to think I’m smart enough not to just go sticking my hands under things without knowing what’s there.
So here we are living 70 minutes from work. Putting up with all this strife. We really don’t have the time or the hours in a day to do the things that need to be done around this place. After the hogs ran through here Doug said “Sometimes I wish we lived in a condo in town.” “Me too!” I said back. We could order food in whenever we wanted. We could just run up the street to a restaurant or the grocery store. We talked about all the pros of living in town.
But it didn’t take us too long to get around to the cons of living in town. People right on the other side of your fence. Looking out your window into a neighbor’s window. Traffic, don’t even get me started on the traffic.
Then we turned to the pros of living in the country. Neighbors wave as they pass you on the road. Wide open spaces, new baby calves, deer at the feeder, turkey with his tail feathers spread, doing his little mating dance right out in front of your house. Sitting in the yard in the evening watching the sky turn from red to pink to lavender. Hearing the trees frogs join in chorus. The call of the Bob White Quail and the Whippoorwills.. Then just as the sun finally sinks below the horizon the call of the coyotes in the distance. Its best in the Spring when you can differentiate between the adults and the babies.
You can’t get that in a neighborhood, a condo, or an apartment. So for all the struggle and the worry, I think we will just stay right where we are. We’re happy here. But if those hogs come back, we will be ready. It won’t be any caging and carting them off like on television. A bullet in the head and then its time for bacon, sausage, and ham.