Monday, June 25, 2007

The pending disaster

I have written in recent days of just how bad the drought of 2007 has been for East and Middle Tennessee. It is so bad that there were substantiated media reports that the spring which produces the water at Lynchburg from which Jack Daniel's is derived was threatened. Jack is now doing everything they can to counteract the story, which leads me to believe that there is at least some truth to it.

A dearth of whiskey is not, however, what is making this drought so bad. The shortfall of rain is affecting people in so many lines of work. People who do landscaping work and who have lawn mowing services can't get any work because there has not been enough rain to make lawns grow to the point of needing mowed. My lawn actually looks like it might need mowing-maybe-for the first time in several weeks. Those who work in the pest control field have the problem of being unable to detect termites early enough to stop them from doing damage because of the lack of moisture. Other pests are making themselves scarce because of lack of water. No rain means few flowers grow-let alone crops-which bees can pollinate. If bees have nothing to pollinate they can't make honey, and if they can't do that, many bees will die.

The drought hurts my wife and I because we have a small rabbit operation. Rabbits, like many other livestock, consume and bed in large amounts of hay. The drought has been so pronounced that in nearly all of East Tennessee and much of Middle Tennessee there has been no second cutting of hay this year. It is the second cutting which provides hay into late summer and through the fall and winter months. Perhaps if you don't have a regular local supplier of hay and you use it and can't grow it yourself, you might get hay from your local Farmers' Cooperative. Good luck with trying-normally the Co-op begins to run low on hay around mid-November, but they are already running low in many counties this year. If you do get hay from a local supplier yourself, that person probably doesn't have much hay to sell you. The price of hay on the open market is obviously going up, so is the price of livestock feed. Food prices at the grocery store are not far behind.

Wildlife is feeling the pinch as well. As pointed out in today's News-Sentinel, it is becoming increasingly common to see deer running around the roads. Sometimes you might see a deer or two this time of year, but you really see them in the late fall when it is hunting and mating season. They are scavenging anywhere they can find in search of food and water.

Rumors abound that the Governor is going to ask the President to declare the State a disaster area because of the scale of the drought. My only question would be why this was not done sooner, when it became clear that this was going to be a severe drought.

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