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I live in east Texas and have a 50 acre a mini-llama ranch. Compared to last year's drought, this year was a piece of cake. But last year was horrendous; a terrible drought, and many days above 100F degrees. This year, it never got above 98F, and that high temperature didn't start until early August. Llamas and alpacas are very efficient eaters. Typically, they eat about 1 square bale per day, or forage for the equivalent of pasture grass.

See more after the squiggle ...

Last year, I got about 100 bales off about 15 acres, when 1200 would have been more normal. I had to sell about 1/3 of my herd last year because I couldn't afford to feed them that $12/bale hay imported from Colorado. I count myself lucky that East TX was not burning in wild fires, like much of the state last year.

When I bought my ranch in 2002, average rainfall was 44 in. per year. But that's all changing now. This year, thank god we had lots of winter and spring rain. So all that fertilizer, pasture seed, and alfalfa that I put out wasn't a wasted gamble. Indeed we even had rain yesterday, and the pastures are still green.

But the climate change warning signs are all round. Since we no longer get real winter with several weeks below freezing, the tree beetles never die back properly. This results is that lots of trees are dieing, and this is an area heavily invested in pine tree farming. I've already lost a pecan tree and an 80 yr old pine. Lots and lots of dead trees coming down with every high wind. As I look out at the view, there are lots more pines that are brown and dead from beetles.

It's not just the tree problem either. I'm seeing migrating birds returning 2 and 3 weeks earlier. The purple martins arrived the third week in Feb. Normally, Feb here is the coldest month. The purple martins and barn swallows used to arrive about mid-March. The hummingbirds, both black and red-throated are fighting their usual access war to the feeders. They typically have moved on by Thanksgiving. Last year, they were here well into Dec. The bluebirds showed up early too. They've had enough time to breed 4 separate rounds babies in the same bird boxes.

I'm not a climate scientist, just an old retired senior. But I don't have to be a biologist to see what Mother Nature is showing me.

Originally posted to vlyons on Sat Aug 25, 2012 at 11:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by TexKos-Messing with Texas with Nothing but Love for Texans and Climate Change SOS.

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