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The Dry Year

Back about 1925 or so we had a dry year, the last I remember. It quit raining in February and it didn't rain again until the following December, after nearly a full year. It was a warm, dry year and the forest trees suffered for moisture.

I had a small field of wheat that dried up in the boot, about knee-high, and barely made pasture. Indian Creek went dry for about 50 feet at Soda Crossing and was very low on all the riffles, but there was little loss of fish because there was enough water in the pools to sustain them and enough to spawn in during December and February of each year, fortunate for the fish. When it did rain again, it rained for almost two weeks.

I have mentioned before about saving sheep on the range. The long dampness gave them rheumatism and they wouldn't get up to feed. Many would make it then, but many did not. I saved a lot of sheep but made some money skinning those that didn't make it. Well, anyway, it may be a little different this time. I haven't been on the range for a long time but what sheep I have seen appear to be making out. The rain in our area came very gently and warm even though late, and the grass soon got a start. Those who kept enough old browsing hay found that it paid off.

Sheep can live on old browsing hay if they must, but they like the young tender sprouts because they taste better. But it is like a child eating cookies, he likes them, but they won't keep them alive alone. The old-timers called sheep that had eaten too much young feed, “washy.”

When the water began to run in the creeks it was pretty muddy but it soon cleared up. We had had a long dry spell in which to create dust. In some ways we have come through surprisingly well. The forest did not dry out as much as it had before and the springs and wells seemed to hold out, maybe partly because people and nature used water much more carefully.

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