On Droughts and Wishing For Rain

In the three weeks since our last post the landscape of our farm has changed so much. It’s a totally different place, almost unrecognizable. We waited and waited for spring to come, and it seemed like we might wait forever, but then the season exploded overnight and we woke up to a green and verdant wonderland. Now that the trees are lush and thick with leaves the farm feels like the secluded and protected spot that we fell in love with way back in September of last year.  When you’re up in the field, far from the road and deep in the woods, it’s easy to imagine that you’re the only person on earth.

The azalea bushes around the house have been blooming in otherworldly florescent shades of pink and red that glow in the moonlight. The pond is murky and dark under the heavy shade of the surrounding trees, which lean out over the water and gaze at their own reflections in the still water. On a warm and still evening the peeper frogs are so deafening that we have to close the windows in order to hear each other talk. We’ve eaten asparagus every day for the last three weeks (not an exaggeration, actually), and our meals are getting greener and greener as the harvests start their rapid acceleration towards summer. 

It would all be totally dreamy and wonderful if we hadn’t also been saddled with a bizarre spring drought that left us without a single drop of water for 27 days straight. The forecast called for rain a few days ago and we awoke in the morning to the tiniest little precipitation event – it stopped after raining a measly 0.1 inches, and we were so disappointed. We’d been counting on that rain! But then! After a foggy and humid day with no suggestion of what was to come, an unexpected thunderstorm rolled in just before bed and it torrentially rained for a delicious half hour. Hallelujah. We’ll need more where that came from, but it’s a great start.

Because of the season and the weather, activity on the farm has been 100% focused on two things – planting and irrigation, tasks of equal priority but conflicting needs. The timing of planting seedlings out in the field has been a delicate balancing act between when they want to leave their trays and when they’re big enough to not die in the unseasonably hot dusty midday sun. The challenge of irrigation has been making do with the infrastructure that we’ve got until our grant funding comes through to dig an irrigation well. Poor Aaron has had to rig up an increasingly complicated series of systems for getting water all the way from the house well to the furthest corner of the field as we’ve gotten increasingly desperate. On any given day he can be found moving pumps, rerouting hoses, refilling gas tanks, running extension cords, checking pressure – all in the service of keeping our baby plants alive until the rain arrives. Good thing he’s a problem solving genius.

All that being said, it’s been a very productive few weeks – the bees are filling their brood boxes, the tomato tunnels are assembled with the tomatoes all snuggled up inside, the flowers, cucurbits, and potatoes are in the field, our markets are starting up, and the perennial garden is full of seedlings. Peppers, eggplants, and another round of greens are getting planted this week before the (supposed) rain on the horizon. No rest for the weary.