Our water comes from an aquifer. It is important to try not to contaminate the water and to conserve the water. You can have your well water tested for minerals and contaminates at a local state office. We also have a lot of calcium in our water. Following are some recommendations:
- Use a water softener or some type of filtration system on your house to help with calcium deposits in your pipes.
- Use a holding tank of 1500 gallons or more capacity. This not only means you're more likely to have water when you need it, it also makes it much more likely that your well pump will last much longer, since it will have a much happier life.
- Install a "pump saver" control on your well pump. It detects the change in load when the pump overloads and shuts it off, then waits an adjustable time for the level to rise before starting the pump again - preventing damage to the well pump. It's critical to have in droughts.
Some people say the water smells like sulfur. The smell and taste of your water depends on your location on the aquifer and the depth of your well. Older wells were cased only for the first 50 feet or so, and when the level drops it is common for the walls of the lower well to flake off, giving bursts of sand or mud in the water, and then it will collapse over the pump so it can't be pulled out. Newer wells are cased all the way down, with perforated casing at the water tables. Many of the wells go to near 800 feet, but have the pump up around 4 to 500. These pumps can be lowered if the upper tables dry up. If your well goes down to 700 ft. you're probably getting water from the Trinity sands.
We all have wells at varying depths and some people have water delivered by China Water. 2500 gallons is about $65 , which is cheaper than much city water; 2500 gallons should last a couple of people about a month. Some people have had to drill another well or drill deeper. Marx Pump Service (512) 365-5188 is a company for wells in our area.
It can be very expensive to have any work done on your well; so to avoid problems during times of drought we must keep the aquifer at a moderate level by conserving our water usage. If you can use a rain collection system, that will help conserve the water in the aquifer.
Here are some more suggested tips to help conserve water.
1. Water your lawn deeply and infrequently to promote a strong root system. An inch a week is all you need.
2. Operate your in-ground sprinkler system manually—don’t use the timer. Check sprinkler systems frequently for directional aim and broken heads to prevent watering driveways, sidewalks and streets.
3. If you own a pool, pay close attention to the water level. If it varies drastically from day to day, you probably have a leak and need it serviced immediately. Swimming pools do not need to be drained and refilled except to replace normal water loss.
4. Use plenty of mulch in your beds—especially during a drought.
5. Choose "water-wise" plants like lantana, salvia and Mexican sage.
6. Raise your lawnmower blade and cut grass to a height of 3 inches—this shades the soil, which reduces evaporation and allows roots to grow deeper.
7. Check for leaks in taps, pipes and hoses. It's an easy way to save water. One slow drip can waste 20 gallons of water daily (7,000 gallons per year).
8. Use soaker hoses instead of sprinklers to water trees, shrubs and beds more efficiently.
It may not seem like much, but every time you practice one of these easy tips, you're not only using water more efficiently and wisely, you’re helping make water supplies last for our area.
Here is a website that can give you a list of deer resistant plants for your yard. http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/midatl/2002083026012897.html
No plant is completely deer resistant. All plants are vulnerable to deer for the first few months. Some successful plants in our area are rosemary, lantana, marigolds, sage, and Carolina jasmine. Deer do not like anything that's too woody, thorny, or smelly. They don't go after cactus or grasses. There is deer repellent you can buy, but it's expensive if you need a lot. It's about $9 a bottle at the local home improvement center. A homemade deer repellent that's sometimes successful is egg and hot pepper sauce. Thin it with water and you can use it in a spray bottle
We have water snakes in our area and be careful of rattlesnakes. The poisonous water snakes are cottonmouths or water moccasins. The nonpoisonous water snakes are probably a splotched snakes. They look very similar. You can identify them by the shape of their head and the markings on their body. Poisonous snakes usually have a more diamond shaped head, whereas a nonpoisonous snake usually has a more oval shaped head. If your bitten by a venomous snake. You must:
* Wash the bite with soap and water.
* Immobilize the bitten area and keep it lower than the heart.
* Get medical help
The doctor will probably give you an antivenin for treatment.
These shots show you how similar a cottonmouth snake can look like a nonpoisonous snake, like a blotched snake. The first shot is the poisonous snake.
During the hot summer days, scorpions may find refuge in the home, moving from attics (where they are usually found) into living areas to escape high temperatures in attics. Not only can scorpion stings be painful, but can sometimes prove to be fatal. However, of 1,500 species of scorpions worldwide, only about 20 to 25 are regarded as dangerous. Stings from Texas scorpions produce only moderate reactions in most people, because these scorpions’ poison has little effect on the nervous system. Severity of a sting depends on the type of scorpion and the victim's reaction to the scorpion's venom, which can cause allergic reactions in some people. An ice pack can provide some relief, but if swelling and or pain continues, or if breathing difficulties occur, medical assistance should be called for immediately.
Controlling Scorpions - There are many things you can do to prevent scorpions from creeping into your home. Keep in mind the following rules of thumb for controlling and preventing scorpions:
- Remove all trash, logs, boards, stones, bricks and other objects from around the home.
- Keep grass closely mowed near the home. Prune bushes and overhanging tree branches away from the house, because tree branches can provide a path to the roof for scorpions.
- Store garbage containers in a frame that keeps them above ground level.
- Never bring firewood inside the house unless it is placed directly onto the fire.
- Install weather-stripping around loose-fitting doors and windows.
- Plug weep holes in brick veneer homes with steel wool, pieces of nylon scouring pad or small squares of screen wire.
- Caulk around roof eaves, pipes and any other cracks leading into the home.
- Keep window screens in good repair. Make sure they fit tightly in the window frame.
(Source: Texas Cooperative Extension)
Tarantulas are HARMLESS to humans and most pets (e.g., dogs and cats). Nobody has ever died from a bite, and the venom is not very poisonous. Most people compare the bite to a bee sting and may experience mild to moderate pain and slight swelling around the bite. Most species are nocturnal, and if one shows up in or around your house, it is just because he is trying to hide out during the day to return to his search at night (or maybe you have female tarantulas living around your house). In South Texas, some males hide out in the low mesquite trees during the daytime hours.
Poison Ivy and Poison Oak
Poison Ivy and Poison Oak, common names applied to two plants of a genus in the cashew family, are capable of producing an allergic reaction in people. Poison ivy and poison oak are variants of a single plant (sometimes treated as separate species by botanists), different mainly in the shape of their leaflets. Both are woody perennial plants of roadsides, thickets, hedgerows, and open woods, and they like damp areas. They may take the form of vines climbing up tree trunks to, shrubs or sub shrubs standing erect by themselves, or vines trailing along the ground. You can identify the plant by it's regular grouping of three leaflets in each leaf, and stiff clusters of small, yellowish or white berries that appear in summer and fall. Other characteristics vary considerably, especially size of leaflet, notching, whether the surface is shiny or dull, or color. They lose their leaves in winter. So it's easier to identify the plant in the spring or summer.
Poison ivy and poison oak contain a lacquer-like resin in their sap. The resin is composed of active substances that provoke an allergic reaction in most people the first time contact occurs. Brushing past the leaves or the bare stems may result in contact. Contact with exposed pets, clothing, or garden tools many induce a reaction. Smoke from burning ivy plants may carry the resin and affect all uncovered parts of the body. The effects do not show up for some hours up to a few days later. First, the skin reddens and begins to itch. Small watery blisters soon appear, often in lines indicating the point of contact with the plant, and the itching may become intense. Finally, in severe cases, large watery swellings appear and coalesce. Recovery takes place in one to four weeks, even without treatment. A physician should be consulted in severe cases or if sensitive parts of the body, such as the eyelids, become involved. Scratching slows healing and invites infection; the watery fluid in the blisters does not spread the reaction. Boric acid solution or calamine lotion is commonly used to relieve itching. Some or all of the resin may be removed by prompt and vigorous scrubbing with strong soap. You might be able to prevent a reaction if the infected area is washed within 10 min. after contact. We have poison ivy everywhere and it is not always obvious.
The plant is poisonous even after it's dead or has been cut. It can even affect your lungs if it's been mowed or burned. Some people say they are not allergic, but please wear long sleeves and long pants to help prevent contact with these plants. If you see the plants on your property it's best to use a weed killer to help control it. Many people mistake Virgina creeper as poison ivy because it's leaves are similar in shape. Usually Virginia creeper has 5 leaves. So be careful when identifying the plant.