Wild swings of spring

Welcome to the 2015 CSA season. It has been a wild spring so far. For much of April we were under water, wondering if the rain would ever let up. Well, let up it did and way too much. For the past month, we have gotten a little more than ¼ inch of rain, and crops are experiencing drought stress. While many nearby places have received replenishing showers, we seem to get barely a drizzle—enough to wet the leaves of plants, but not enough to water their roots. Had it not been for the weather forecasts frequently calling for rain, I would have already jumped on laying out our irrigation system. This weekend, then, whatever the meteorologists are saying, I am getting busy rolling out hose and drip tape.
This is my 11th year growing produce, and I have never seen it so dry so early. A month without rain during the summer is not good but also not uncommon. A month without water during the spring is nearly disastrous; now is when we need to get seeds germinating and plants established, and this doesn’t happen without water. The earth in many places is cracking open, begging for hydration. Rather than continuing to size up, as they should be, our strawberries are starting to ripen. Patches of grass are already turning brown. Plants that should be growing are holding on for dear life. Yikes.
Yet temperatures have mostly been mild. Summer is not even here yet. What happens if we keep missing the rain, and the heat starts to soar? These thoughts of the long haul are what have me working hard to stave off a gnawing depression.
(To interrupt me from my unpleasant reverie, the water pump for our house just started going haywire. I looked down into our well, and it has gone dry. That’ll give me something to do tomorrow, I guess.)
Enough said. Let’s change the subject.
A new working share
And he’s four years old and quickly coming to have a sharper farming mind than mine. His name is Clark, and he he’s learning to read, and write, and reason, and calculate. But the greatest privilege he can conceive of is to get to work with the crew. He may be super late for lunch or getting whacked in the head with a shovel (because he follows so closely behind), but he wants to see the job through to the end. I strive to not spoil all the goodness I see unfolding.
The cruelest month
Some say it’s April, but I say it’s May. Everything is happening now: tilling, planting, weeding, watering, picking, packing, thinning, mowing. Courtney is still in school, Monday through Friday. The chickens, both layers and broilers, squawk out for attention. A new deer fence project needs to be finished, but when? Although it stays light late into the night now, I still must fire up the headlamp and make it light longer. Thankfully, I am built for such mania; I was made to run marathons; I find purpose in the endless pursuit. In the winter months, I start fires. In the growing season, I seek them and attempt to put them out.
I say “I” too much. This farm has survived these ten years because it is a team effort. Just as Clark sees the crew as a collection of role models, so too do I. There is no joy in a journey undertaken alone. However challenging the circumstances, this farm survives so long as laughter and camaraderie triumph. We are each other’s angels, we keep each other going, and such a sense of gratitude floods over me that I have no words to express it. Know, though, that it is a great honor to work alongside you and to feel that we complement each other, that, aware of the awful warring and hurt all around, this work that is at times grueling is, to me, a healing and wholeness equally powerful. Thanks, and thanks again, to the end of times.
This past week of first deliveries was like a family reunion. It was a delight to reunite. Thanks for all the rain dances and words and hugs of commiseration. With a little luck, and each other, we’ll thrive like we always have.

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