I was driving through the desert of New Mexico en route to Taos talking about our cotton. I can’t remember a summer as scorchingly hot as this one–and there were some hot ones in the late 60s and early 70s. In the last weeks, temperatures have consistently been over 100. If we have a few more summers like this one, our landscape might morph into something more like the desert. While a desert can be a beautiful landscape, it is much different from our home here in Alabama.
This month’s Market Bulletin highlights the drought conditions in Alabama, stating that nearly 86% of our state is suffering. That percentage continues to grow. We are choosing not to irrigate our field. Due to the extremely dry conditions, water conservation is necessary. Report after report leaves shrinking hope for our farmers, their agriculture, and the landscape.
Last week we received this update from Lisa, Jimmy’s wife:
“Last night just before dark, Little Eli and I went to check on the cotton. The lush green that covered the field up until a few days ago is gone. Even the weeds that had grown in the rows are now dead and gone. The cotton plants have drawn in to about 1/3 the size they were last week. It is heartbreaking. The cotton has not yet withered, but that will happen in the next couple of days of this horrible heat. No little cotton plants have ever been more loved, but Mother Nature had other plans this season. Now I understand why so many of my grandfather’s generation left their plows in the field, gave up farming, and went to towns in search of work. I hate sending this news. But I know you will want to know the situation.”
I’m holding out hope as long as I can. Erin visited the field last week. I see promise captured in her photos. She sent me this quote, which seems particularly fitting now:
“The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” – Muriel Rukeyser
That being said, I think that the most important thing for me to remember is that we made this HUGE leap and STARTED. There are good years and bad years. Stories through the millennia attest to that fact. Above, Lisa told part of that story.
We have definitely started a story, and whether or not our test field survives, and that story isn’t over…
P.S.: We will keep you updated as the summer continues. Thank you to everyone for their support along the way, especially Jimmy, Lisa, K.P., and Katy whose tremendous amount of love and care for the field have kept it going this long.