It’s a rainy Memorial Day, and I sure woke up feeling stiff and sore from a combination of work fatigue and the dampness in the air. It’s funny, when I was younger I used to hear the old-timers talk about the way dampness makes the bones ache and I didn’t really get it. My bones don’t ache yet, but my shoulder muscles and hip flexors sure do. We’ve been running new ag (pond) water lines for an expanded system with more storage capacity, and shoving the ends of the pipes together and holding them for the glue to set up always leaves me feeling sore the next day. Sore or not, I’m grateful for the rain. It has already been so dry here that the dust on the road had become a thick layer waiting to explode with traffic and settle slowly over the landscape, choking everything. The rain will wash us clean to start anew, reminding us that it really is still spring, though it has felt like deep summer of late. The brassicas are beaming today, having been desperate for some weather more in line with what they naturally prefer. There certainly hasn’t been much of this cool, drizzly weather this spring and all the young kales, kohlrabis and Chinese greens are absolutely reveling in it. I’m much more of a hot pepper than a kale; I’m all about the hottest, sunniest day possible. Cloudy weather tends to cloud my mood, making it harder to find my motivation and irrepressibility. I’ve been really trying to focus on appreciating rainy days and being happy for the rain, and I am grateful, but I’m never as chipper on cloudy days.
Not having to worry about water today makes this sorta like an actual day off! We’ve already pumped more than 10,000 gallons of water for agricultural and household use this spring, and it isn’t even June. Usually we’re able to push well into June before we even fire up the pump for the first time. We’ve never pumped this much this early, and it has had me quite nervous about our usage. We’ve expanded our crop space by some 3000 square feet since the end of last summer, and we were pretty well tapped out at that point. To this end, we’ve planned not to replant the beds that our garlic and overwinter onions are coming out of until we reach the fall rains. We’re also going to plant a run of buckwheat for a quick-growing cover crop that we can stop watering when the water crunch begins. There has been some conjecture that we’re moving into a new weather pattern that includes semi-regular rains during the summer months. This would be pretty epic from a farm standpoint; every cool, cloudy/rainy day is a day that I don’t have to irrigate, and a day on which the farm chores are lessened because we don’t need to hand water beds. We’ve been mulching heavily with rice straw so as to provide more protection for the soil and keep irrigation water from evaporating off the soil surface, and we’re running more irrigation now than we were at the height of last summer. We’ve never had to fire up much irrigation this time of year, but right now we’re running irrigation on almost every bed that we have planted, and hand watering the greenhouses and the few beds that I haven’t yet gotten up on drip. We run ½” mainline to ½” inline emitter tubing with ½” easy-loc fittings and Digg timers, all available from Dripworks. Check them out at dripworks.com, they pretty much have everything that we use for our irrigation and from my perspective they’re the leaders in the industry.