Eric shot a deer on Sunday, making a slight dent in the all-too-large local population, and as we were butchering, I came across some unusual clumps in the stomach. After a couple of emails back and forth with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), we have a hypothesis regarding what these might be that fits with other natural observations this year. We thought we’d share parts of this exchange, as we’re interested in hearing other observations or alternate hypotheses.
First, the question I submitted via the MDC contact form:
Once we got the early heavy rain over with, October was a wonderfully pleasant month. Generally stable weather & temperatures meant we could enjoy working outdoors. Temperatures finally crashed right at the end of the month, fitting a trend we’ve discussed before: that the October/November transition is when the first true cold weather always seems to arrive. This October, like others before it, felt like a final gift of Indian summer and we were glad to have it.
This September was reminiscent of last year’s, with pleasant & mostly dry weather. We received a scare with the threat of a very early hard frost in mid-September, but some rain the day before and some un-forecast cloud cover the second night buffered us just enough to allow sensitive plants to keep producing through the month. All in all, an unremarkable but enjoyable month in our ecosystem.
Although the second half of August felt pretty miserable due to heat and humidity, and we’re glad it’s over, the first half fit the rest of this summer’s trend in being cool and comfortable. Rainfall was below average, also continuing summer’s trend, but not desperately so, and it was reasonably spread out through the month.
July was extraordinarily cool, especially as compared to the blast furnace of 2012. As pleasant as the working conditions were, it was also quite dry (less than 1/3 average rainfall) and we’re quickly re-entering the drought conditions that so worried us earlier in the year. You can clearly see this in the annual precip graph for Columbia, maintained by NWS, which shows how we’ve flirted with drought all year (other than one dousing in early April) and are now something like 4″ under average since the rain shut off in early July. We can see the vegetation transitioning to that yellow-tinged hue of dry summers, and the ground is rock-hard with cracks showing through. Still, a lot of neat things were happening in our ecosystem, as this month’s photos document. Continue reading
June was a month of glorious weather, the temperatures comfortably average and the rainfall just right. We will need to remind ourselves of just how pleasant this stretch was, when the true heat of summer arrives. How often does it actually rain about once a week and roughly an inch +/- at a time? Only quibble was with the timing, which often made it too wet for our Sunday morning crew to help with hoeing. Both crops and weeds grew very well, so we were quite busy. We did, however, take a little time for photography, so there are lots of pictures this month.
May was mostly warm & dry, finishing a few degrees above normal and with only about 2/3 normal rainfall (most of which fell early in the month). Obscured in the warm average was the major cold snap mid-month, in which we suffered three nights of frost and much of the northern half of Missouri set record lows. Last May was quite different, logging an awful 12″ of rain and more moderate temperatures. Compared to that, we’ll take the overly dry conditions, but it’s still of great concern that we’ve had below-average rainfall every month since October (save April). There’s just no pleasing farmers in a Missouri May. Continue reading
Learning to understand and predict local weather is a really important skill for properly managing our diversified farm. There are so many ways that weather conditions can hinder or help our work, and general forecasts don’t always cover what we need to know. Case in point, predicting when we’re going to have a frost in our valley regardless of whether it’s regionally expected.This skill can mean the difference between significant crop loss and success at extending/completing our growing season. You’d never know it from the muggy, high-80s conditions this week, but we saw last week’s three nights of frost coming. Continue reading
As one might expect, April threw a little bit of everything at us, from rain & hail to deep freeze to hot dry days to absurdly splendid ones. Lots of birds showing up, lots of animals becoming active, lots of plants and trees springing to life. It’s a good month for photography and outdoor distraction, so this will be a fun photo essay of things we’ve seen as part of our normal lives working the land. Continue reading
March continued the cool, dry trend of this winter, useful for getting outdoor work done but of increasing concern for the coming growing season. It turned out to be a nice birding month, with reasonably stable weather making it easier to observe consistently. A month that began with lows below 0 ended with highs around 70, clearing demonstrating the seasonal changes underway as we appreciate the gentle warming of spring. Continue reading