Gearing Up for Fall

It’s hard to believe it’s September, not because the summer went by too quickly, but because it’s currently 95 degrees outside. The forecast for the next 10 days has a high of 102 and a low of 94. Welcome to East Texas heat. What’s even worse than the heat though is that there isn’t even a tiny chance of rain in the forecast for the next 10 days. 

The hot cayenne peppers in my garden love the heat. I have to pick them before the weather turns cold.

If you live in the Piney Woods, East Texas, “Big Thicket” area of the state (yes, we have three names for our region), you have two seasons every year: flood or drought. We had bad floods and storms this spring. We were praying, “Please stop raining!” Now we are in the drought part of the year where we are praying, “Please rain!” The pastures are all brown and dry, burn bans are in effect, and no chance of rain in sight. 

However, we usually get flooding again in the fall. It will flood until it freezes and kills off any remaining grass and garden goodies. So, that’s what I’m starting to gear up for… The eventual freeze. 

Here are some herbs I hung up to dry.

At first frost, all of my basil will die, so I’m starting to put some of it up to dry. I have both sweet basil and Thai basil. I also put up some oregano and rosemary. 

Basil and hot peppers seem to be the only living things that appreciate this crazy hot weather. They are growing gangbusters while the grass withers in the fields, the cows seek shade, and the humans stay in the air conditioning. 

One of the most important ways we gear up for fall/winter is by stocking up on hay. We are fortunate, because our hay provider happens to be my husband’s father (who we call Opa). Opa gleans hay from about 250 acres that he usually cuts at least three times a year. How many times he can cut hay depends a lot on the weather, as does the quality of the hay, and how much he can bale. Opa puts up great big 5’ by 6’ round bales that weigh about 1,500 lbs. Obviously, you have to use a tractor to move those kind of bales. 

My son gives you an idea of the size of our hay bales.

I may do a post about cutting hay in the future, but, for now, let’s just say it’s a big job, and he has helpers, including my husband. 

After the first freeze, the grass all goes dormant, and the livestock have to be fed hay until the grass revives again in the spring. When the grass is growing good, our cows will always choose it over hay.

You can see where our cows have been snacking on the hay bales.

We put several hay bales under our barn lean-to this year. The animals left it alone until the grass started to dry out. Even though it was fenced off, some of the Longhorns reached up and over the fence to snack on the top bales and messed them up. Shame on them. They’re getting fed those bales first come winter, the stinkers.  

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