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.


Lisa from Iroqouis said...

We are just down the road from you and although we did not see a lot of rain this year clearly it was more that you folks. The resiliency of plants is amazing. Of course the heat did a number here instead. I got maybe a scant pound of broccoli from 12 plants. They all went to seed in a hurry. About half that on the cauliflower and I don't think any of my cabbages will form a head. They are all standing up and waving their leaves around as if they are saying .. hot, hot, its too hot to curl up in a ball. Sorry to hear about your hens. We lost all ours, one at a time to a family of weasels. We moved them into 3 different buildings to try and protect them after we realized that we could not plug all the holes fast enough but each time it was only a matter of days before the killing started again. We were finally down to one last lonely little brown hen and I brought her right into the house. She spent the days in the wood shed and the nights in a big dog kennel in the summer kitchen. We ended up taking her back to the farm where we got her as a chick.

VP said...

So sorry to hear about the demise of your hens... 15,000 eggs from them is amazing.

There's only one constant with the weather... it'll always be different from year to year. Your post has bought back memories of our visit last year and how Toronto was recovering from one of its worst winters ever.

I think we might have had your share of the rain this year ;)

Emily said...

So sorry to hear about your chickens. Ours are getting neglected with a new baby in the house. But we only have 5.

Blogging has slowed to sporadic for me too. Life changes and so do interests. It is still nice to check in and see what you're up to.