GATESVILLE — Texas weather is confusing, but one thing for certain is we need rain.
Coryell County is still in a “severe” drought, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture drought monitor data released early this month. That is not breaking news to area farmers and ranchers who have been coping with the effects of sparse rainfall for the last few years.
Some parts of the state have it even worse, according to the USDA, experiencing “extreme” or even “exceptional” drought. Many counties have it easy with just a “moderate” drought, and others are blessed with just “abnormally dry” weather.
In other words, everybody in Texas needs rain, but some need it more than others.
The little dab of precipitation we enjoyed this week didn’t move the needle on the drought meter, but it prompted the county commissioners to lift the burn ban for a week, allowing outdoor fires in unincorporated areas of the county through Sunday.
With just a little rain mixed, at times, with a lot of wind, some might wonder whether lifting the ban was a good idea. Billy Vaden, the county fire marshal, advised against the move, citing the unpredictably gusty winds.
The rationale for easing the burn ban, County Judge John Firth said, was to let landowners get rid of some of the dead trees and cut brush that have been piling up to “mitigate future wild fires” by reducing the fuel supply.
That makes sense. There is a lot of dead cedar slash lying around that could cause real trouble if ignited by a grassfire.
If, like me, you are thinking of doing a controlled burn this weekend, make sure the winds are calm and don’t forget to call and tell the sheriff when and where you will be lighting up.
Spring has officially sprung, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. The vernal equinox was March 20. I can attest to the presence of bluebonnets in bloom on the prairie at Mother Neff State Park on that day.
That distinctive blossom of our state flower is also showing up on the roadside of Farm-to-Market 116 and U.S. 84. A few purple verbena flowers are also making their appearance along with some cut leaf daisies.
We are still weeks away from the gaudy wildflower displays that entice motorists to stop for photos along the road shoulders. Before summer, bluebonnets will be joined by Indian paintbrushes, fire wheels, pink primroses, horse mint, wine cups, mountain pinks and blackfoot daisies.
But first we need rain.