She recalls hearing and reading stories of how settlers came to Midland in the late 1800s because it had plentiful amounts of what is today the rarest of commodities: water. Eight large bodies of water, she said, surrounded the town when settlers first pulled up and set stakes here.
The town's reputation for moisture had long since disappeared by the time the 1950s rolled around, when the region suffered through an historic seven-year drought. She calls our current dry spell "terrible" but won't go so far as to make comparisons between then and now.
"Eighteen-hundredths of an inch of rain since last October is not very dang much," she said. "But people have to know, there's always been times of drought and famine and it's always been followed by times of plenty. This is nothing new. The cold winter we had last year shut a lot of Al Gore's statements up. That was a horrible winter we had last year and that's what really hurts during a drought as much as anything: when the soil doesn't have any moisture to protect the roots."
As West Texan's lawns go up in clouds of dust and yard watering becomes more and more a luxury we can't afford to either waste or miss, Nobles recalls that in her younger days her family was forced to move entire herds to the family ranch in New Mexico just so the cattle could eat. She also remembers that the family was forced to sell down its herd of horses so it could afford to buy feed for the remaining livestock.
"We kept selling down and selling down, and finally we had us a herd of 100 yearling heifers, and they were perfect," she recalled. "Finally one day my husband came home, and we had very little left in the bank. And he said, 'We can't do this any more. We can't go any further.' And so we sold them all. Four days later, we had a four inch rain. It was Mother Nature's way of playing a joke on us, I guess."
But again, Mrs. Nobles stops short of making comparisons between our current dry spell and the one she vividly recalls from the 1950s. Why? Because the cattle sell down her and her husband endured was, she said, "the last four years of a seven-year drought." Fortunately for those of us enduring a dry spell that began in earnest last fall, this period of drought has been significantly shorter. At least for now.