Tag Archives: drought

Fire Ants, Dishwashing and Drought

Having to haul water offers up a rare challenge insofar as cooking and cleaning up afterward.   Before the drought became so severe I’d mitigated the problem by putting my dirty dishes into potato or grapefruit bags and placing them on imported fireant beds.  A day later, voila!  Clean clean clean!

All I had to do is pull them out of the bags and wipe them down with a moist towel or cloth and they were ready to use.

But as the summer progressed and the soil dried the fire ant beds became more difficult to locate.  Without moisture in it the soil here has no structure.  The beds became invisible, and concurrently the ants seemed just to go underground.   Imported fire ants,  common name: red imported fire ant
scientific name: Solenopsis invicta Buren (Insecta: Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae) are eating machines.  They’ll eat anything.


“Mounds are built of soil and are seldom larger than 46 cm (18 in) in diameter. When a mound is disturbed, ants emerge aggressively to bite and sting the intruder. A white pustule usually appears the next day at the site of the sting (Cohen 1992).

I looked for other alternatives with other ant species, no joy.  What I discovered is that good American fire ants just don’t want to do that kind of work.  I tried it with every kind of ant bed I could find, dishes stacking up in the sink, me gradually being forced to use hauled water and scouring pads to clean up dishes and utensils.

If I couldn’t find some good American fireants willing to work or some way to locate illegal imported fireants for the job I was going to be reduced to hauling water a lot more, or get a dog to lick that stuff off the eatingware.

Luckily that 24/7 September 13, moonbows and canned thunder outdoor canned thunder brought in the first measurable rainfall in 100+ days here, just as you thought it would.  There’s enough moisture in the soil now to let the fire ant mounds get some altitude so’s I’ll be able to locate them for my dishwashing.

On the other hand, the rain proved my chimney-fix didn’t entirely accomplish what was intended.

Water was hitting the chimney outside, intruding and running down the stovepipe as far as the elbow, then dripping in.

Hard to think of a good quote to sum up all this.  “It’s an ill wind that blows no good?”

But it’s all good.  I just have to cut that oversized chimney-pipe and put it on there as a sleeve over the old chimney soon.  Better knowing it now than discovering it when Mr. Bullgoose Daddy-Longlegs storm comes in.

Old Jules

Drought, Starving Wildlife Stewardship and Paradox

Looking for solutions

There’s an irony in this picture.  Gale, the man feeding the deer, owns this 300 acres I live on.  One of the reasons he originally bought it had to do with the passion for hunting he spent most of his life following, which, 40 years ago was a passion we shared and was one of the ties leading to our becoming friends.  Between us we’ve killed more large mammals than either of us can remember, though I don’t recall we ever hunted together.

Each of us following the routes our lives took us gradually and independently lost any interest in killing any more if it could be avoided.

Which is still a long way from sitting on a rock feeding tame deer every evening.  I’ve never arrived there.  I’d far prefer the deer staying out in the woods tending their own affairs and leaving me to tend mine, which they refuse to do.

Now, along comes the extended drought.  Today he’s feeding a herd of 30-40 starving deer up there, spending $100 + per month on corn, range cubes and hay.  If he tried to feed them enough to get them beyond near-starvation he’d bankrupt himself doing it.  He’s picking cactus tines out of the lips and noses of his tame deer because they’re so hungry they’re trying to eat prickly pear cactus.

I’ve got another 20-30 down here I’m not feeding intentionally.  ‘Mine’ are so desperate for food they constantly hang around waiting for me to feed the chickens, refuse to be run away further than I can throw a rock, and even come onto the porch for the cat food when any is left outdoors.

But watching a herd of deer starve to death, whether you’re feeding them and given them names, or are just some guy trying to mind his own affairs and have them forced on him as unwelcome guests, is a troubling position to be in.  A few days ago he and I were discussing it trying to come up with some means of providing them more to eat without him having to spend a lot more money doing it.

Eventually it came to me people in Kerrville are probably still mowing their lawns, bagging the grass clippings and putting them out on the curbs to be picked up by the city.  We talked about this a while and considered the fact the bags of grass ferment when sealed, creating a feed we’ve both been around called silage, which livestock love.

Next time either of us goes to town we’ll be looking at lawns to see if we’re right in believing they’re still watering grass and mowing it.  If they are, I’ll soon be putting up a post on Kerrville FreeCycle Yahoo Group asking if any of them would,

  1.  be willing to allow a trailer to be positioned on their lots where others could bring bagged grass clippings so we could haul them off weekly or a couple of times per month to feed the deer, and
  2. if such a lot and such a trailer were in place in Kerrville, would they be willing to carry their clippings there instead of just to the curb in front of their homes.

But this mightn’t work, and even if it works it’s only a partial solution to the problem.

I’m looking for ideas and information.  You others living in drought-stricken areas, do you have any idea what, if anything, locals with starving deer populations are doing to supplement their feeding?

Any ideas or experiences that might lead to even interim or partial solutions will be appreciated.

Thanks,  Old Jules

Money isn’t the solution to this problem, but the performance in Cabaret does seem apropos somehow:

Cabaret- Money


Black Hole Sucks in 140 Trillion Times the World’s Oceans

It’s no doggoned wonder we’re suffering drought.  This news piece lets the cat out of the bag.
Black hole sucks in 140 trillion times the world’s oceans:

Seems there’s a moon of Saturn spewing water out into space faster than Saturn Moonians can catch it to make proper use of it.  That whole Saturn ring fiasco is mainly chunks of ice out cluttering up what would otherwise be a nice, clean see-through piece of real estate with nothing in it to offend drought-stricken city people who have grass needs watering, golf courses needing to be kept green, swimming pools and hot-tubs to frolic in, and other important uses.

But that’s not the worst of it.  A growing body of evidence argues Mars used to have plenty of water for golf courses and whatnot, but it got ripped off and wasted by parties unknown.

Investigators among the astronomical community recently discovered a black hole off a few hundred million light years away is doing something similar there.

They’ve been bragging for some while about creating ‘baby black holes’ in the super-colliders and at Sandia National Laboratory.

Another dramatic climb toward fusion conditions for Sandia Z accelerator:

Probably no connection to this little drought we’re suffering though.

Old Jules
Creedence Clearwater Revival– Have You Ever Seen the Rain:

Give a Person a Fish

Hi blogsters:

I never see that phrase about fish without a flash of memory.

During the 1950s drought stock ponds were drying up all over the southwest.  There came a day a lot like this one, though it was probably warmer, when a kid named David Cagle and I were wandering around the ruins of cow country and came across a pond that was maybe five acres of surface and about three inches deep in water.  Every square foot of water had a fish flopping in it.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

A few hundred yards from the pond was an abandoned barn where we’d noticed an old galvanized washtub someone had probably used to water calves when there was still water, or feed them when there was still food.  We hoofed over to that barn and snagged the tub, waded into that fish and cow-mud calf deep throwing fish into the tub.

We glowed over that tub full of fish all the way home, him on one handle, me on the other, thinking how deeeeeelighted our folks would be with the treasure we were bringing them.

Both of us smelled a joyous combination of cow-mud and fish when we got to David’s house, went in through the kitchen door and watched his mama shriek even before she turned around and saw the fish.

“Get those fish out of this house!”

We got them out and she followed us into the yard to hose him down before she’d allow him inside.  Me, she ordered to take those fish with me and head down the road.

My own mom took a more circumspect view of things, mainly because she wasn’t home when I got there.  I cleaned myself up and filled the kitchen sink with all the fish it would hold and started killing and gutting them.  The job was far enough along to make quitting a moot point when she got home.

I gutted a lot of fish over the next couple of days, though I did move the operation out into the back yard.

My mom’s one of those kind of people who remember such things after she can’t remember her own name.  I’m not sure I’ve ever returned to her company during the past 50 years without being reminded of it.

Give a person a fish and he might not appreciate it, but he won’t starve until the fish is digested.

But give a person a fishing pole and he’ll almost surely hook an ear or nostril before it’s over.

Old Jules

Sons of the Pioneers–  Cool Clear Water

Woody Guthrie–Dust Bowl Blues