Tuesday, January 9, 2024

A Most Uncommon Year it Was...


Winter Blue Jay - photograph ©Bruce A. Morrison 

A New Year has been with us for a bit over a week and I'm still pondering what just happened...for one, last year was over before it began...for another thing, it was good and not so good at the same time.  Confusing huh.

We had entered our 4th straight year of drought here; the spring and summer weren't what we needed to change that, but still there was some moisture at opportune times...it helped the garden, and helped the farmers "just" enough to quell our tendency to dwell on our circumstances.

The Herons returned to the rookery here, the neighbor's fields were prepared and planted, and the pastures started greening up - things seemed "normal".  How we've grown to expect things to move along as we are so accustomed!  

Then drought repeated...the Herons abandoned their rookery for the first time since the nesting colony was established well over 20 years ago. (The Waterman dried for the first time in memory in 2022, and went into winter with a vulnerable fishery pooled up in small isolated pools - which froze to the bottom in the 22-23 winter temps.)  The Waterman quit flowing once again this past summer after Labor Day.

The small birds of the yard and pasture were still a joy; we had Bluebirds nesting again for the first time since the drought began in 2021.  However it was the first year we've witnessed Tree Swallows failing to nest here.  We arrived here over 20 years ago and became accustomed to 20-30 Barn Swallows patrolling the acreage; this year we had 6 pairs, down from 7-8 last year.

Some notable plants in our pasture, having gone dormant 3-4 years past, still did not reappear.  However our gravel esker hillside still offered up amazing color, albeit shorter stature and blooming time.

"Another" year saw historical warm global temperatures.

The world once again roiled in turmoil. 

As summer progressed, our family suffered joy and great loss. 

As fall came into it's time, we saw warmer temps and an unusual gift of 6.5" of rain in 2 days...it was appreciated and celebrated by everyone here!  It got the Waterman flowing once more, however small the flow may be - its a good thing.

Then the warmest November and December I've ever remembered myself.  The ground stayed receptive (unfrozen) and we got an inch and a half of rain here on Christmas Eve day and Christmas day!

We did manage a south pasture burn in November; I had been picking seed all fall and had finally decided to broadcast it over the top of the south pasture on the 23rd of December.  Hopefully this planting will see fruition!

And now we start this second week of the New Year with a return to what we are always accustomed to here - frigid temperatures and snow.  Lets keep that sowed seed covered!

Yes it was an uncommon year - at least for us.  We are thankful for the Blessings from it, and pray for all those around us who have loved and lost, toiled, reaped and harvested.  May this New Year be kind to you and may you be kind to others.  We are all of one family and this world is our only home.

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