Drought

DSC_0011 smIn Christchurch, the City Council and the media are only just now recognising what we gardeners and farmers have known for two months. It’s dry. And hot.

It’s the fate of those who grow plants and raise livestock to grow grimmer and grimmer as everyone else trips off to the beach for yet another perfect summer day.

The grass has been dead for at least a month, new plantings have succumbed despite our efforts to water them, and even well established shrubs are showing stress. The poplars—large trees that have been here for forever—are shedding leaves.

Every day begins and ends with watering—food crops are the first priority, then new plantings, then (maybe) established plants. We are thankful for every drop of water that spills over from the neighbour’s irrigator.

Still, not everything will make it, even if it starts raining tomorrow (which it won’t). The ground is hot dust, so dry the water pools on the surface rather than soaking in. So we choose what to water and what not to water, what will live and what will die. We haul extra food to the livestock, because they have little to eat in the paddock. We watch the sky for clouds and sniff the air for smoke (header fires aren’t uncommon out here, and they can spread rapidly). We rescue what we can…then shrug and head to the beach with everyone else.