Not having a lot to say about fancy pottery or ships on the ocean, I’ll just write about my small vessels and the morning ritual I’ve been carrying out since June, when the local water sources — mainly sloughs — were drying up and there was no water for the birds.
My water containers sit on the wanna-be lawn between the house and the woods to the east. They are: a large round plastic dishpan, a mid-size enamel basin, like the old hand-washing basins of days gone by, and two flat pans about 14″ in diameter. If these are all empty, I quickly fill my pitcher and slip out to refill at least one container for the birds that are still coming regularly to drink and bathe in the early morning. They often seem to be waiting for me to show up. 🙂 Our October weather has been so warm and sunny that the robins are staying longer; I even saw a couple of meadowlarks yesterday!
Later, once properly dressed and fit to be seen by motorists passing by, I fill a vessel in the sink — a five-gallon plastic bucket and/or a one-gallon Rubbermaid pitcher — and head outside to replenish the total supply. Yes, I’m a sympathetic nut, but our prairie is just so dry now! I repeat the refilling at dusk. Some mornings I’ve found all four of my containers licked dry, so I know desperately thirsty creatures have come in the night.
I often wish I could get a glimpse of my nocturnal visitors but I’ve only seen a doe and fawn a few times, and their prints in the soft ground where water has splashed. One night I saw what I thought was a raccoon, and another time a fox (?) ran through the yard, but it was moving pretty fast for ID-ing it. Do these come to drink, or one just happened to run through?
A lot of work, you say? I like the birds and am happy to watch them having a good time out there. Also, I wake up very thirsty in the night sometimes and I don’t wish that kind of thirst on anything else. Deer can drink from cattle troughs, but smaller animals may not be able to, so I’ll keep filling basins as long as the weather holds. I hope and pray there will be at least some snow cover this winter — or our wildlife will really suffer.
I’ve heard and read about the “dust bowl” years here on the prairie, about hoppers that could clean off a 160-acre field in a day, about horses and cows forced to eat the prickly Russian thistles because they were the only green thing growing anywhere, about the farmers who took jobs in the northern “parkland” part of the province to earn enough to get by for another year. So I made up this diary.
Prairie Farm Girl’s Diary — Summer 1934
A west wind blew the hoppers in two days ago. They cleaned the wheat crop clear down to the ground yesterday. Dad went north to a lumber camp after seeding so we can afford our grub and heat next winter and feed for the horses and cow – unless it rains. A stream of clouds went over last night on their way to rain somewhere else, maybe tomorrow. Tom and I are minding the place all summer while Dad’s away and Mom’s in a dither about all the dust. She says we’re leaving this drought-deviled land soon as Dad gets back.
Sammi Cox has posted another weekend writing challenge.
I’m taking a break from editing this morning and feel inspired by the thought of furrows and wind, so I’ll offer this response:
The everlasting wind sweeps over the furrowed fields brushing the topsoil —what’s left of it — into the grooves left by the plough last fall before the farmer — weary of everlasting wind,
of watching the snowless fields drift, — left for good.
I’ve heard enough about the “dustbowl years”
that they blow through my writing at times. 🙂
It’s time for another Friday Fictioneers post and today’s prompt inspired me with a poem of sorts. Many thanks to our patient and inspiring host, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, for shepherding our FF group through green pastures teeming with tales, and to Danny Bowman for the challenging prompt. I see the various muses have been productive even given this barren landscape to write about.
Speaking of productive, I’m delighted to tell you all that my book is published and now live on Amazon! (Fireworks and cartwheels 🙂 ) Silver Morning Song is a collection of poems, short stories and fables. I plan to publish it on Kobo as well; I’ll likely spend today doing that, plus setting up an Author Account on Amazon and generally telling the world. And as all authors will say, I’d really appreciate reviews. 🙂
On to today’s prompt:
Right now we seem to be in a world of unprecedented water and storms; eighty years ago it was unprecedented drought. I’ll dedicate this verse to all the poor inexperienced homesteaders who came to these Great Plains and were advised to deep-plough their fields every fall. Took the ‘Dirty Thirties’ to prove agricultural advisers of the day so wrong. Farmers today practice “no till” farming.