To our friends in Texas - please check in! Wildfires and drought.

Andrewteee

All-Pro
Jul 8, 2010
123
My folks escaped to Canada for a couple of weeks (from Ft Worth). Just returned but the heat is cooling down. The fires sound terrible. The new normal?
 

Lili

Hall of Famer
Oct 17, 2010
123
Dallas, TX
Lili
We are cooler now in Dallas, highs only reaching 90. The fires are a county or so to our west, I was really hoping we'd get some rain from Lee...
 

BBW

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 7, 2010
123
betwixt and between
BB
Just a quick note to say that I have heard from Janis. She's written that they're about 120 miles or so from the Bastrop fires...and has described the terrible drought surrounding them. If she has time, she'll write more but I wanted to at least let everyone know that Janis had checked in.
 

texascbx

Veteran
Jul 10, 2010
103
Canton Texas
Ricky
Just been hot out here in east Texas, about 60 miles east of Dallas. I'm 55 and have never seen this many days in a row of 100+ temps and no rain. Generally, there is some kind of break, but not this year. Last night a cool front blew in and now it's in the 60s. Most of the ranchers have sold their cows around here because there is no grass and there is not much hay to be found. What hay there is available comes from Oklahoma and is in the 120 dollar range, which makes raising cattle a poor proposition for profit when hay generally goes for around 30 dollars a round bale. Last year about 350 bales of hay came off our 28.5 acre place, but this year, there was not enough grass to cut even once. I bought eight bales about two months ago for eighty a bale and bought four more a couple of weeks ago for 100 apiece. So I have enough hay to make it through the winter with my three longhorn cows.

Another problem most ranchers face is their ponds, known as tanks around here, are dry or going dry and in remote areas where there is no water supply, they have to haul water in for their cows. That will break you real quick.

My friend was telling me about people here in the county letting out their donkeys so they don't have to feed them anymore. The local sheriff has about ten of them now and if no one adopts them, they will be shot or taken to the glue factory. A popular belief is that donkeys will keep coyotes away, but the downside is they are notorious for biting other animals and humans so I don't want one.

My brothers still live out in west Texas in Seymour. One was telling me about the fires out there. They have taken these huge ranches, some up to 50,000 acres, and built these tall fences to keep the deer in so they can charge people to come hunt deer. The deer can't get away from the hunters so I guess it depends on your view of canned hunting as it's called, if you think it's cool to shoot an animal cowering against a fence. The deer also can't get in so it's heartbreaking to read about hundreds of deer piled up dead from a fire either on the outside of these hunting ranches or inside.

Another tragic thing about the heat and drought is the tanks/ponds that are going dry or are dry. Cattle like to wade in these stock tanks to cool off and drink water and with them so low, they can reach the middle now. The middle part of these tanks is generally like quicksand so they get stuck and can't get out. If the rancher finds them in time, he can pull them out with a tractor and if not, then they get weak from struggling to free themselves and just die.
 

BBW

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 7, 2010
123
betwixt and between
BB
I'm so sad to read your descriptions. I'm glad you are safe but I'm appalled and disgusted by the canned hunting and the human indifference. The rest of your description - the realities of what all this means is horrible, too. I know there is much human suffering around the globe...and certainly not just in Texas, however I do appreciate your putting a personal face on what's going on in your state, Ricky. I hope your family remains safe and I do pray for rain.
 

texascbx

Veteran
Jul 10, 2010
103
Canton Texas
Ricky
Wyman Meinzer has some very sad pictures of the drought and running commentary on a huge stock tank as it goes dry and eventually turned into a cracked depression in the ground. He also happens to be the state photographer. He regularly posts them daily on FB. The drought images are on FB, but he has some amazing images in the video too. He is a nice guy and lives and was raised in Benjamin, thirty miles from where I'm from.


Wyman Meinzer | Facebook

<iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/22132017?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0" frameborder="0" height="225" width="400"></iframe>Wyman Meinzer's West Texas from Wyman Meinzer on Vimeo.
 

Andrewteee

All-Pro
Jul 8, 2010
123
The state forest service is at the end of their rope and all fires are being fought on a priority basis. Any new fires will just have to burn through. Sad to hear the beautiful hill country is burning away. Sad tales all around.
 

BBW

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 7, 2010
123
betwixt and between
BB
stanleyk, thank you so much for checking in - and for letting us know where you were and what's going on. Stay safe and please let us know what's going on and where you and your pets are!

Ricky, thanks for those links to Meinzer's photographs.
 

Crsnydertx

Top Veteran
Jan 21, 2011
103
Houston, TX
Chuck
As Armando indicated, we're not threatened by fires in most of the immediate Houston area. However, it's been estimated that we will lose 6 million trees to the drought. We had hoped for some relief from Tropical Storm Lee, but it stayed east of us and we got nothing..
 

BBW

Administrator Emeritus
Jul 7, 2010
123
betwixt and between
BB
Chuck, I'm glad to hear from you and that you are safe! I really wasn't sure where you were from...since my memory banks are too full. :redface:
 

Janis

Regular
Nov 22, 2010
43
Central Texas
Texas Hill Country/Kerr County

Hi everyone --

First, Stanley, GOOD LUCK! Please keep us posted. I used to live in Austin and I love Bastrop State Park and feel sick about this.

We're OK so far in Kerr County, but worried as we have so much dry stuff around our house. We've done what we can for a fire perimeter but our house is built into the side of a rocky hill and there is no way all the grasses and brush can be mowed or cut. I broke my ankle on this hill, to show you how rugged it is. We're headed to the Davis Mtns. in far West Texas tomorrow for a few days, but I hate to leave with so much fire danger both here and there. We do have housesitters, and I'm taking family photos and my external drive full of images with me, and hoping for the best. My main worry is no one but us could catch all our pets and get them out of here in a hurry. We were supposed to go out to Ft. Davis in April and the whole area was on fire so we cancelled. That was one of the biggest fires ever in Texas, but Bastrop trumps it. Right how there are no fires nearby or in the Davis Mtns, but if that changes we won't go, of course.

We have stayed really close to home all summer to deal with the drought. We put on a metal roof specifically due to fire danger, because we have a lot of fire "fuel" on the hill above us. Also there are Ashe junipers on the hill and they can throw sparks a long way. We have 600 feet of soaker hoses around the trees and shrubs right next to the house, and we're also watering the foundation. I can see some cracks in the front porch that have me worried. We have a deep well and so far it's OK but plenty of wells around here (60 miles northwest of San Antonio) are going dry. Foundations are cracking all over the state. I, too, have seen dried up creeks, Guadalupe River very low, stock tanks dry, dead and dying trees everywhere, etc. It is so sad to watch trees die. Now that Ricky has filled in the details on what the dry tanks really mean, I am even more troubled. And really sad about the animals. I despise those shooting ranches and always have, and I can't believe that about the poor donkeys! Our neighbor has some oryxes, a huge and beautiful antelope that is popular for shooting on those ranches. They're as gentle and tame as cows. The ranchers feed them, so they have no fear of humans. Some sport.

It's interesting what Ricky said about donkeys protecting livestock. I've heard you have to raise the donkey from a young age with the goats or cattle. Austin has a lot of coyote problems in the suburbs, but out here the ranchers must shoot them all, whether they're supposed to or not, because we never hear them or see them here.

The deer are getting desperate. Last night for the first time they went behind a trellis I use to block access to the the front porch and ate the plants on the porch. They're also cropping the grass in the backyard and we haven't had to mow it once this year. We have six birdbaths and we keep a hose dripping in the deepest one because they can wipe it out really fast. As I was telling BB, we see a roadrunner almost every day in the birdbath. I can only imagine all the animals we're providing water to at night. I would guess foxes, raccoons, skunks, possums, and rabbits, in addition to deer. I need to set up a little camera out there! We haven't seen any snakes, but we've been warned to be careful at night because rattlesnakes will come up onto porches during a drought.

It's beyond my imagination that this drought could last till at least next year. When we moved here we were one hour from where the semi-desert starts (I'm thinking of the town of Junction). If this kind of heat and drought are repeated in the next few years then I fear the desert will be here very soon, and we will have to watch a ton of trees and other vegetation die during the transition. I don't want to be here in that case!

Hoping for rain, and really sad for everyone who's being wiped out by this and by the flooding in the northeast. Everyone take care, and thanks, BB, for starting this thread!
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
123
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
I hope all of the crazy weather we've been having the past few years is just cyclical and not the early signs of climate change. I don't claim to know and I'm sure not trying to make a political point - I just fear it could be and hope its not. Because if it is, I doubt there's anything to be done about it at this point and it will just get more extreme. Just hoping its some cyclical phenomenon and will settle down soon. I know hurricanes and hot summers and droughts and blizzards are nothing new - they just seem more consistently extreme lately.

In the meantime, I'm glad all of you folks down there are OK so far and I'm glad all of us back here got through Irene in reasonable shape...

-Ray
 

123compact!

Regular
May 19, 2011
18
Hi all,

I'm here in Austin, about 30 miles from the fires. The winds died down yesterday but the Bastrop file is still 100% uncontained. A friend of mine told me about a photo op regarding saved farm animals so I am hoping to get out there today but don't know if it will be possible.

Send your donations if you can, there are thousands here who have lost everything!

Chad
 

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