As I sit here writing this column on September 1st for the fall Quarterly, I am just hoping we will have seen a change in our weather by October. I believe this has been a challenging year for a lot of ASCFG members.

Between droughts, floods, heat, late spring freezes, earthquakes and hurricanes, many ASCFG members have had some extreme situation or another to deal with this year.  Ours has been relentless heat and drought.  This year we blew out all the old records from the 30s (Dust Bowl) and 1980, when we had 50 days that summer of over 100 degrees. This year we had 62 and we have been in an exceptional drought all summer. The really bad thing is I know Texas has been worse. I know there are places in southern Oklahoma and in Texas that the number of days over 100 degrees is around 105.

If you want to know more about the Dust Bowl and some history to go with it, read The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan. I’m sure it will enlighten you to many things you didn’t know about the Dust Bowl or the people who survived it.

I think that in the 17 years I have been growing flowers, this has been the most challenging year. We have been watering 24/7 since June. The flowers are alive and blooming and look very good but I have never seen water bills like this: $3,000 and $3,600 respectively and we are not finished yet. My normal water bill in the summer is $500 a month.

Then there are the deer. I’ve never had deer issues at my farm before, but this year they are starving. We have always had deer at the farm, but  they have never bothered anything because there has always been plenty for them to eat without eating the flowers. Overnight they ate 10,000 sunflowers to the ground. We counted 17 deer in the field the next evening. Pepper spray which always works did not this time. I’m going to look into a sprinkler with a motion sensor that I’ve heard rave reviews about. You can get it on Amazon and it’s called a scarecrow motion-activated sprinkler. When any animal gets within 25 feet of it, it kicks on and scares them off. That could be good for lots of things.

But it could always be worse. Our lakes and ponds are very low but in parts of Texas, they are dried up completely.  It will take a hurricane coming up from the gulf to break this drought. And with everything so hot and so very dry, there have been huge fires both here in Oklahoma and in Texas. Some of those fires have been in the national news. I really feel for the firefighters in this heat and for the many people who have lost everything they own in the fires. I just can’t imagine fighting a fire that is running around 800-900 degrees in the 105 degree heat of the day. My hats off to all the firefighters!

The National Conference is right around the corner and it looks to be great, as usual.  I hope to see everyone there and to learn as many new things as possible. I do hope everyone’s growing season was not filled with too many challenges and that everyone is looking forward to next year, I know I am.