It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

whichever season you choose

Glen Boudreaux
Jolie Vue Farms
Brenham, Texas

As I sat my tractor yesterday, pulling the Bush Hog to shred standing hay from last year, and observing the lush green undergrowth that was waiting for its turn at a shot of bright sun and clean air to herald our 2007 Spring Flush, the Christmas song that is one of my favorites kept coming to mind. I didn't know that the next morning I would be writing this while a 35 mph Canadian norther was blowing in, bringing us weather more like Christmas in the Northeast than springtime in the Southwest. (OK, so I heard rumors about this norther, but didn't really believe it would happen quite so forcefully.) Yesterday I gloried in the bright cloudless skies, sweet dry air and cool temperatures of Washington County, Texas. I reveled in the sight of the emerging blue-green bluestem and grama native grasses and the reds, blues and yellows of the eager young wildflowers, singing "Wonderful Time" to myself. This morning I can hear the sleet hitting the tin roof on our porch as I write. Farming has always been about the weather, but this is getting out of hand.

We rely on the rhythm of the seasons to set our schedules in the farming community. Weather is never absolutely predictable, but if you look at the typical signs, know what your last average freeze date is, and generally observe Mother Nature, you can predict within a week or two when the season has in fact changed. Let me modify that - you used to be able to predict. What happens when stockmen are thrown a curveball like we have today, the 7th day of April, 2007?

First of all, the cattle get the blues. By this time of the year, they are anxious to get back to the springing, juicy, new-growth grasses. Their diet has been pretty monotonous for the last 4 months. Also pretty dry, even though we put out some winter varieties to give them some green stuff along with their standing hay. Before I mounted the tractor yesterday, I cut the herd into a small pasture we call the oak patch. Having been protected from the northwest winds all winter, the early grasses of spring were knee deep. If the cattle could talk, I'm sure they would have been singing "Auld Lang Syne" to me. Boy, were they grateful. It's going to be a short-term treat, Daisy. Sleet and lower temps will set the flush back by a good 2 weeks. Get ready for more dry hay from the barn, old girl.

Still skeptical about global warming? Well, call it what you will, but our weather patterns are changing. Here are 3 historically significant events in the weather records of Jolie Vue:
-in 18 years of keeping close rain records, we have never recorded 10+ inches of rain in January. The average is 4.7 and the previous high was 6 inches. January caught 10.25 inches. We had to bring the herd up to the top of the farm to keep them out of the mush.
-in the same 18 years, including some pretty droughty years, we have never gone more than 3 weeks without some recordable rain. This February recorded no rain for the entire month. So we went from too much rain to none at all from one month to another, each one setting a record.
-in my 58 years, farmers could always rely on the pecan tree to tell us when the freezes were over. When they budded, there was no more freezing weather to come. Well, they budded last week. And it will freeze this evening. Maybe not in Houston, but it will at the 400' level at Jolie Vue.

From the friont line, I remain

Yours in the local harvest,


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