Hip-waders and Arks
Ok, so it’s more like goulashes and scattered plywood
tossed over top of standing water and deep mud.
But at any rate, it’s more rain, in less time, over a
longer period of time, than North Texas has seen in many years. Many,
In fact, since I’ve been farming I have not ever
experienced this kind of ongoing flooding, lack of sunshiney days and
uncertainty about the future of an upcoming season.
If you see me working moonlight at Garden Café to
fill in the financial gaps, you’ll know why. I’m only half-joking.
Without crops to harvest, the Market Day won’t
generate the money needed to supplement the farm’s budget – the CSA
carries a large portion of that, but they are not the only resource for
cash-flow the farm relies on to function.
I’m hearing from small gardeners, some community
gardeners - mostly those with raised beds - how wonderful their
plants are doing.
However, for those growing in 100’, 200’ or longer
rows of farmland, the stories are not as favorable.
Many farmers I’ve talked to are not sure what, or
when, or if, summer crops will grow. Some have lost the last part
of their cool season harvests due to the flooding rains – lack of sunshine
and overzealous insect populations trying to help take out the damaged
plants. That’s what they’re supposed to do, but if we’d get more than 48
continuous hours without precipitation, perhaps the plants would have a
chance to recover a bit – or the biological means many organic farmers use
to help control pests, would have a chance to work!
can’t get into their fields, or down the rows, to harvest some or all of
their potatoes, onions and garlic.
And as it sits in the soggy
soil week after week, it’s getting ruined. And no, most small farms don’t
qualify for crop insurance, much less have the funds to
This is one of the main reasons why CSA is so
important for many small farms. The risks of farming, the
unreliable effects of the weather, is shared with the farmer, by his or
her community of members.
The brokers and middlemen for grocery stores and co
ops, can simply turn to a farm that has had better luck – and weather – to
fill their customer’s “shares” and store shelves. And we wonder why more
farms have to close each year? Ah, but I digress.....
Yesterday I planted about two dozen more of the
larger fruit sized tomato plants I had planted weeks ago outside –
inside the covered hoop house – in hopes that I could still get some
production from them before it got too hot at night for them to pollinate.
know what? The soil in there was just as wet, or wetter, than the soil
outside! (Note to self – install gutters on the hoop house!)
All of that rain, all 10.63” in May alone, (so far!),
has run down the side of the hoop house plastic, into the soil and has
worked its way under the soil IN-side the hoop house.
And since the soil has been sheet mulched, (i.e.
cardboard layered over top of soil) it’s not getting a chance to evaporate
Needless to say, I didn’t need to “water in” any of
those tomato plants. I’m hoping I planted them up high enough so they
don’t drown! I’ve not had to water the peppers or the other
tomatoes planted in there for weeks.
I didn't realize the hoop house came with an
incidental underground irrigation system – no charge.
onions have seemed to disappear out in the flooded fields. A.L., a farmer
who leases some land here, has had the same experience both with his
onions as well as the leeks he planted. “They’ve just disappeared!”
Maybe our coyote and rabbits have decided to
make a gourmet dinner together….
I am, despite all of the ill-effects associated with
it, very grateful for the rain. I wish I would have guessed this would be
the year the drought would be broken by floods, as a colleague mentioned
happened back in the 50’s.
I would have planned for it by raising up my sandy
soil rows into even higher beds, putting in more swales, and maybe dug
another pond if I could have funded it. And I certainly would have planted
even more fruit trees, blueberry bushes and other perennial plants.
The ones that we put in this winter couldn’t have asked for a better
spring to help get them rooted. I may not have to water them until August!
But our area reservoirs in North Texas are now full
again, as is Frog Pond, here at Eden's, and the horses and wildlife have
plenty of water to cool off in and drink, as do our native trees and
Although, let’s hope this abundance doesn’t
mean people will start watering lawns (and driveways, sidewalks and
streets), willy nilly without thought or concern as they did pre-drought
days. You know the ones - with the sprinkler systems that are on “auto”
and water every week, come rain or shine.
Because just as quickly as the rains came – they can,
and surely will, end. And we’ll be right back where we were just a few
I’m also concerned that many people will forget the
preventative measures to take to help prevent the onslaught of adult
mosquitoes and flies that often follow flooding rainy seasons.
(the four D’s).
And I worry, too, that someone is sitting somewhere
jingling their keys to airplanes that will carry toxic, neurotoxins,
instead of larvaecide that they should be out there dropping right now.
I’ve contacted my local city councilman and our newly
elected mayor and asked them to contact our County officials requesting
that preventative measures be taken – rather than the reactive
Please, reach out to your local officials as well.
Mosquito dunks, or doughnuts as they are sometimes called, are available
through most public city offices and sold inexpensively just about
everywhere garden or farm products are carried.
little crumbles laced with
BTi, are great for sprinkling out in the low marshy areas that can’t
be dumped or drained. They, as well as the dunks, work for about a month –
and as long as they don’t wash away – will dry out and re-activate with
the rain. I would not complain one bit if I saw helicopters dropping these
out over the vast fields and forested areas. At least we know that it is
effective, safe and worth our tax dollars to do.
We all have to do our part. No one wants a repeat of
the chaos of a few summers ago, and no one wants anyone to get sick from a
mosquito bite, either, even though you're probably more likely to buy a
winning lotto ticket.
I’d like to think we were wiser now, both as informed
citizens using better protection and our government officials heeding the
warnings of the toxic sprays. But I’ve already heard reports of fogging
trucks being used. And it’s only May….
Eat Your Food -