Long Summer Nights
Sometimes I can’t wait another day for summer to be over, but when summer is over…so are the long summer nights.
Summer in central Texas gets a bad rap. It is after all very hot! And very dry! in fact this summer we have had an abnormally hot and dry summer. The Fall, Winter and Spring from 2018-2019 seemed to set in motion what many thought would be a more tolerable summer. Then in July, the water simply turned off. We haven’t had any measurable rainfall on the farm since the first week of July and August was reportedly the second hottest on record with 27 of 31 days above the 100 degree mark. We are well into September now and the thermometer continues to rise above 100 degrees and no real rain relief in sight. All of this aside, there is still something magical about the long summer nights.
No matter the daytime weather, once the sun dips below the tree-line, the mercury drops to a more tolerable level. The sun-drenched pastures and 100+ degree barn are no place to be during the day, but as evening breaks, we can venture outside as a family. Evening chores are a fun time of doing chores together such as feeding the sheep and rounding them up into their barns. We take turns filling up the water troughs for the following day (which definitely has to be done in the evening so that the water going into the trough isn’t steaming hot). Summer evenings are also a time to bring the animals closer into the barn and interact with them after they’ve been grazing and hiding from the sun (as we do as well) all day.
Another wonderful evening display is the squadrons of dragonflies that come out for their evening meal. It may sound a simple thing to those not accustomed to it, but there really is a sense of connection to nature simply by stopping to watch the hundreds of dragon flies humming over the grasses eating all the mosquitoes. Along with the dragonflies are the fireflies that come to life about dusk adding their own magic to the landscape.
The chickens live and play in the chicken run all day, but as the sun sets they all meander back to their coop. Most of them would rather not be bothered, but this is an important time to get u close and check them to make sure they are still safe and happy. Of course this is also egg-collection time as well. The eggs are usually where they are supposed to be, but sometimes there is an evening game of “find-the-eggs” as the chickens sometimes decide against laying in the hot coop during the day. Some farming operations just leave the animals out all night wherever they may be, but we really enjoy the evening gatherings as a time to interact with our furry and woolly friends. Every animal appears the same during the day out on the pasture with heads buried in the grass, but around the barn before “bed-time” their individual personalities come to life.
Of course it’s not all fun and games. The vegetable garden is an important part of farm life and in this weather a daily watering is a must. There honestly isn’t much left growing in our garden this time of year, but what is there needs our daily attention. It is during this final chore of the evening that the world around us begins to grow quiet and then come alive again with the sound of night animals waking up for their nocturnal rounds. The armadillos start to venture out of the woods rustling the leaves and the owls begin their nighttime calls used to organize their nighttime hunts. One rare occasion these beautiful night birds have flown directly over us or very near and they are a beautiful sight to watch.
One might think that this is just simply every-day life on the farm, but in reality the summer time has it’s own personality that isn’t found at other times of the year. The nights of summer are warmer and longer than most other seasons and the wildlife is much more active. When Fall arrives and then winter, many of the animals and insects simply disappear and the darkness appears long before dinner is even done. The night brings on the predators so shorter days mean mire hurried evening chores thus reducing the time to be able to simply enjoy the world around us. Summer evenings are cool and often rather quiet. One could say that although were on a land-locked farm surrounded by woods, experiencing the outdoors during summer is much like walking along the beach with the gentle breezes that are almost always rolling in from the south.
These are our experiences during summer nights. How are you enjoying your long summer nights?