04 September 2016

A severe summer

This was a screenshot from the Weather Network site last month:

It caught my attention, as 'severe' is not usually a word I'd associate with summer weather. But it has turned out to be an apt one for this season.

We are used to dealing with very dry summers, but this has been the worst one since we've been in Canada. At the height of the drought, on August 13th, I forced myself to take photographs of the vegetable garden. With barely enough water for the household, I had not been able to water the garden at all, and the plants were really suffering. In the whole of July we had 23mm of rain and the previous three months were also very dry (April 23mm, May 19mm, June 48mm).

The cabbage patch:

The squash plants:

The row of sunflowers next to the squash:

We got an inch of rain that day, followed by half an inch three days later and that was enough to start the plants growing again. It's still very dry, but the 48mm we received in August has made a huge difference to the garden.

This how the cabbage patch looks now:

And the sunflowers, with the squash behind them, are looking a bit healthier. Two of the squash plants died in the drought, but the others have recovered and I'm now picking patty pan squash. This week I will pick the first of the zucchini/courgettes. The only problem now is that the weeds are also enjoying the rain!

In less happy news, I have to report that my entire flock of chickens (33 birds) were killed by a mink during July and August. I don't know if the dry weather was a contributory factor, but I suspect it might have been. Over the course of three weeks I fought a losing battle with this night-time killer. Every time I thought I'd managed to mink-proof the coop, it found a way through (they only need an inch) and killed one or more chickens. One night it killed eight. On the morning of August 8th I found the last seven chickens dead on the floor.

After eight years of keeping chickens I think I'm going to stop, for a while at least. I am really going to miss them, and their eggs (my birds had produced 15,000 eggs in the time I had them), but right now one less responsibility is probably a good thing. But yes, this summer has been severe indeed.