Skip to main content

Hopeful Weather

The last full week of July 2016 marked the longest stretch of hot weather we've had in the Sierra foothills this summer.  While we didn't get nearly as warm as some parts of California, the heat here was oppressive.  Moving irrigation and unclogging sprinklers became the highlight of my day (and getting wet in the process) - anything to cool off a bit!  As is usually the case for me, I found myself coping with the heat by looking forward to that day in August that would bring a hint of the coming autumn weather.  A day that starts out cooler, with the scent of dew on dry grass and decaying leaves in the air. Usually, this day arrives late in the month; in 2016 (an unusual weather year for lots of reasons), it arrived today!

During the summer months, we typically sleep with the windows open and with fans running (we don't have air conditioning - just a whole-house fan and wonderful shade trees around the house).  This morning I woke up cold - and a quick glance at the thermometer when I got out of bed revealed that the outside temperature was just 49 degrees Fahrenheit.  When I left the house to head to the ranch, a cool breeze was rattling the leaves of the mulberry trees in the yard.  And as I drove the 3 miles to I descended into a fog bank - unusual for early August, but entirely welcome!  Between the heavy dew on the pasture grasses, the overspray of the sprinklers, and the cool wind, I was chilled by the time I finished my chores.  I know we'll have more hot days before summer is over, but mornings like this give me hope!

This week, I read that 2015 set all kinds of climate records (see the Climate Central website for details).  Mark Twain supposedly said, "Climate is what you expect; weather is what you get," although I can't find direct evidence that the quote is his.  Regardless, I think it does illustrate the difference between climate and weather.  All of the scientific evidence I've seen suggests that our climate is growing warmer, and yet the day-to-day weather doesn't feel much different (for example, it's always hot in late July).  In some respects, I suppose we're like a frog in a pot of water on the stove - we won't realize it's getting hotter until we're fully cooked.  Regardless, I always look forward to an August day like today - it gives me hope that cooler (and wetter) weather is on the horizon.


  1. My 96 year old dad lives in Livermore and has been saying that it's been so hot there they haven't been going outside at all...he has the remains of an ancient (close to 75 years old) almond orchard, no critters, so he doesn't need to go out like he used to. Here in Santa Cruz it has been nasty grey foggy every day and the water has been between 59 and 60 degrees...we have a low pressure system hanging over us, which is maybe helping you guys cool down? I keep having to stop and think to get my head around the difference between climate and weather, too...what I miss about the hot days in the Livermore Valley were the warm it is either grey and cold or a little bit of sun and a lot of wind...blows that itchy hay right down the old shirt front! Thanks for the fascinating posts and photos


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Trade Offs

As we were building fence for the soon-to-be-lambing ewes this morning, someone drove by and asked my partner Roger how long it took to set up the electro-net fencing we use for the sheep. Roger replied, "It's not too bad," to which the driver said, "Seems like a lot of work." Roger's answer - which both of us use with some frequency, was, "Yeah - but this way we don't have to feed any hay!" The driver, who obviously wasn't a rancher, didn't understand - and I suspect even some of my rancher friends don't understand the trade off we're making. Building electric fence is a lot of work - wouldn't it be easier just to feed hay?

The paddock that Roger and I built this morning encloses about 5.75 acres of high quality forage. Since the ewes are on the verge of lambing, their forage demand is peaking. They're eating nearly twice as much grass now as they need in the late summer - after all, many of them eating for three (and p…

No Easy Answers Part 2

In mid October, some friends who graze their cattle in the mountains of western Lassen County (less than 200 miles from our home), became the first ranchers to have cattle “officially” killed by wolves in California in nearly a century. Wildlife officials confirmed that the Lassen pack killed a 600-pound heifer; four more heifers died (and were partially eaten by wolves), but the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) couldn’t confirm the cause of death. While I learned about the depredations shortly after they happened through the rancher grapevine, news of my friends’ losses weren’t made public until the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau Federation issued a joint press release this week. The October 28 edition of the Sacramento Bee ran the story.
If you’ve read my previous blogs about wolves, you’ll probably know that I’ve frequently been frustrated with the Bee’s coverage. The paper has run guest opinions disguised as news articles, and appar…

Humbled and Excited

More than 20 years ago, I went to work for the California Cattlemen's Association (CCA). After two internships, I'd been hired by my friend and mentor John Braly as the membership director in 1992. By 1996, I'd been promoted to assistant vice president - pretty heady stuff for a young guy who hadn't grown up in the industry. I started looking for new challenges. Dr. Jim Oltjen, who was (and is) the beef extension specialist at UC Davis (my undergraduate alma mater) suggested that I think about going to graduate school to prepare for a career in extension. I considered it, but the timing wasn't right.

Fast forward to 2013 (or so) - I'd been working as a part-time community education specialist in our local University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) office for several years. The farm advisors in the office - Roger Ingram and Cindy Fake - suggested that I consider getting a master's degree and applying for a future farm advisor job. This time the id…