Monday 3 June 2024

Me vs Droughts and Places I Don't Need to Be

Have you ever walked into a room and known immediately that this wasn't the place for you? Things were just wrong in a number of tiny but vital ways; you just knew deep down that mistakes had been made leading up to your arrival here, but it was too late to fix them. Maybe you were over or under dressed, or a new employee in a retirement seminar, or maybe you were the one single person in a room that was obviously filled with throuples. Or maybe you just weren't a farmer. 

This may be a bit confusing, and I understand that. My brain works in mysterious and frequently very disjointed ways, but let's be honest, that's probably why you're let's begin. 

As we rapidly approach what feels like the annual heat-death of the universe (read: “summer”), my anxiety has begun creeping up to what I know will become alarming levels as the seasons progress. This is in major part due to the erratic weather we've all seen lately, from wildfires that never end, to atmospheric rivers, heat domes, and polar vortexes. 

As an aside, I'd like to argue that most of these sound like something a scientist made up, probably because they got sick and fucking tired of trying to explain the concept of barometric pressure to the unwashed masses.  So...heat dome. 

We've gone from seeing a few decently hot days in the summer and some reasonably  cold winter days, to temperatures so hot that they cracked our front window, and lows as cold as the proverbial left tit of a witch.  It's gotten to the point that if it's less than about 29 degrees in the summer, I may consider a sweater because I've just adapted to living in a volcano. 

So while some people deny global warming (and then in the same breath complain about the unexplainably shitty weather), I think we can all mostly agree that this is our fault. Humanity I mean, not you or I specifically. Unless this is being read by an ExxonMobile rep, in which case, it might actually be your fault. But this is the world we live in, and we need to deal with it; we need to work together and do our part to help our planet. Which brings me in a very circuitous way back to the beginning of this story: being in a place that you probably don't belong. 

We live just outside of town, and being on a well is a hellish reality for our family. Water insecurity is deeply and traumatically ingrained on my soul, and drought is always a concern, especially in recent years (see earlier point about global warming). So when the town promoted a drought management and information session, both my husband and I decided that this was something we should definitely make time to attend. Ahhh, we were sweet summer children. 

We arrived at the meeting and found a spot at a table. We started chatting to the gentleman beside us, and he said he had a farm just outside of town, and droughts were a concern for him too. The other people around us also had farms, and were deeply concerned for their crops and livelihoods. Someone asked us if we ran cattle or horses or a more agricultural farm, and I did the adult equivalent of screaming "look over there" and changed the subject. 

                                                                 We do not have a farm that produces anything. 

We do not have horses.

We do not have cows.

We do have two indoor cats.

We do have a small vegetable garden that I significantly over plant because the only way I get enough out of it to be useful is by leaning heavily on quantity not quality. If I plant 7 zucchini plants, maybe 3 of them will eventually cough out a squash or two. Maybe. 

My husband and I looked at each other with the dawning recognition that this was not a meeting for people simply concerned about drought as a whole. This was very much a meeting for people with FARMS who were concerned about drought. We were not sun-hardened farmers with years of experience and cowboy hats to match. We were two people who just wanted regular showers and the water capacity to run a load of laundry.

We were at the wrong meeting.  

And in that moment of realization the meeting started, and we couldn't leave. 

And so, for the next hour I learned more than I ever wanted or needed to know about farm life. And not Clarkson's Farm farm life, but the real nuts and bolts of agricultural subsidy programs, water management for herds and fields, and the temporal significance of your historical water access.

I had just wanted to know if there were ways I could better manage my well and household water use, but now I wondered if maybe I needed a herd of alpacas in order to apply for additional water rights.

The presenters were very good, and I absolutely commend the town for putting on such a useful and forward thinking program, but the longer the meeting went on, the more it was apparent that we needed to leave. The audience would nod knowingly when the presenters made a good point, and would occasionally lean towards one another to debate a piece of information that was presented. At one point, the farmer sitting beside me leaned over and said something I can only describe as "cows these days" while shaking his head like a tired father. 

And then it got worse. The presenter stood up and said that soon we would be working with our table groups to brainstorm farm stuff, and I panicked.  I picked up my phone and texted my husband sitting immediately beside me: WE HAVE TO LEAVE. THEY'RE DOING BREAKOUT GROUPS. THEY WILL KNOW WE AREN'T PART OF THE HERD !!!!!

But then we got lucky for the first time that night. They polled the room and we decided to take a short break before getting into the group-think session. I locked eyes with my husband, gave a small nod towards the door, and we ran. 

Well, we walked, but we didn't make eye contact with anyone in the room so hopefully they wouldn't notice the two woefully out of their depth individuals trying to escape. We were free, and we knew a lot more about animal husbandry during a drought than we'd ever imagined we would. 


I still have my high heels and corporate suits taking up real estate in my closet, but there are some days I wonder if maybe, after all these years, it's finally time to get a cowboy hat.....I'm up to date on my cow-based drought management, so I might as well look the part. 


  1. u will look great in a cowboy ( girl ) hat & chaps !!

  2. Just point me in the direction of the horses!