Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tell Sonny Thanks for the Prayers

I've always been bad about checking the weather forecast. As a result, I am frequently improperly attired and cold (I'm Southern, so unable to comprehend that a cotton sweatshirt is not the same as long underwear and a wool sweater) or trapped in the middle of a deluge wearing a white tshirt. Luckily, farming seems poised to break me of this habit. The forecast is such a critical part of our planning for the day that I'm beginning to form opinions on the various forecasting websites and I'm liable to give you the climatic breakdown for the day on an hour-to-hour basis. You see, it all comes back to water.

Lately, in the South, we've been experiencing a drought of epic proportions; so much so that our governor has added prayers for rain to the legislative agenda and others have proposed redrawing the state borders in an absurd bid for additional water rights. Down at Serenbe, spring is treating us fairly well, though the looming specter of drought still makes this farmer very nervous. Seeds need moisture to germinate, and transplants require water to ease the transition from pampered greenhouse life to the rugged outdoors, so without rainfall we're stalled. We can foliar feed our plants (a long process I will no doubt explain in detail eventually) if we must, but ideally, we want our transplanting and seeding days to be followed by the sort of wet spring days that require colorful galoshes and puddle-jumping.

One such day came upon us a bit prematurely, catching us still in the fields with trays of swiss chard yearning to be transplanted. We worked through the rain, trying our best to space the plants in the muddy crests of the bed rather than in the brown rills soon swirling around our feet. I was convinced that I had drowned a significant portion of our plants, or that once the rain cleared we would find the greater part of them washed down by the onions and garlic and dead from exposure. I busied myself the next day with other tasks, unwilling to witness the carnage. But lo! the swiss chard lives! It thrives, in fact.

Meanwhile, over in the greenhouse, I have obtained full watering rights. As the days grow warmer and our tiny building ever fuller, the greenhouse has become our Mecca and watering our form of prayer. We check on the plants 4 or 5 times daily, watering according to age, location in the greenhouse, time of day, and other plant-specific needs. So imagine my distress Thursday when continued construction on our new greenhouse necessitated shutting off the water around 1:30 pm. With 6 more hours of sunlight and Paige away helping a fellow farmer, Jack and I ended up drip-watering the thirsty sunflowers and lettuces with the dregs of the rain barrel. Lacking anything remotely resembling a watering can (go figure), we rigged up a delivery system by stabbing styrofoam cups with our harvest knives. Unfortunately, the rain barrel ran out before we could hit the watermelons, so we turned to the last unclaimed water on the farm: bottles of "Serenbe water" (despite the label's claims, actually from Tennessee; again, go figure) that were lying around in our cooler. Hopefully the 'melons won't develop a taste for such fancy libations, as we're down to our final box and we regained our more mundane local water the next morning.

1 comment:

FluentNSmiles said...

You have a wonderful writing style. Very interesting, funny, and easy to connect with.