I’ve a simple rain measurement system set up at the farm. An empty bucket left out to collect rain. Before I empty the bucket I estimate how much rain it collected and add that number to previous days’ tally. I think the farm got 5 inches of rain in the last week.
The weather affects how much and what types of work get done on a farm. Plants and earth are best left alone when they are wet because disease spreads quickly among wet leaves and soil becomes super compacted when it’s saturated so we don’t want to drive the tractor on it. Big pigweed can be pulled anytime, but since it needs to be carried out of the field to keep it from re-rooting, I often save this task for a rainy day. A bed of carrots is best delicately hand-weeded when the soil is moist. Carrots and cilantro get flame-weeded when there is no wind, no drought and preferably after a good rain. Greenhouse work is nice on a rainy day. Many vegetables prefer to be harvested at a time of day when it’s cool, overcast and the wind is still. Thread-stage weeds and those a bit larger die a quick death when uprooted in the middle of a sunny day. Seedlings are happiest transplanted when there’s moisture in the soil and the sky is overcast. You get the picture ….. to a large extent, the weather determines the tasks that fill our day.
For the past week most of our farming activities have been shaped by the wet, wet weather. Our fall and winter crops have been seeded into cell trays. Pigweed and galen soga have been pulled from the leek and onion beds. When we harvested tomatoes we were careful to minimize our contact with the leaves. There was a short interval when the tomato foilage was dry and 600 row feet of them got tied up at record speed (quick! before the rain starts again!) Harvest was delayed on Thursday because of lighning, so we sat in the barn and watched the weather. Carrots and cilantro were flamed.
It was a wet, soggy week. Even the best rain gear couldn’t keep us completely dry. As the week wore on, it became increasingly difficult to think complicated thoughts or execute a plan with more than one step to it. I’ve always found this to be the most troubling side-effect of working long hours in gray, rainy, muddy conditions. I think it’s not particular to me. I’ve worked with other growers who seem to go into a trance-like state after working a day in the rain.
Yesterday was the first sunny, rain-free day we’ve had for awhile. It was glorious. Sunny. Dry. Bright. Warm. Just glorious. Here’s some of what we did:
Tied 750 row feet of tomatoes. Harvested 300 row feet of storage onions and laid them out to cure. Cut 200 feet of parsley to allow a nice second growth. Harvested 24 pounds of basil for the Preservation Share (bulk produce for preserving). Pulled weeds between the tomatoes rows. Watched the top layer of soil begin to dry and made plans for lots of thread-stage weeding this weekend. Bought buffalo mozzarella and ate it with tomatoes and basil. Happily chatted about everything.
Thanks to Liz (super farm intern), Molly (another local farmer who will be working with me one day a week for a few months), Ainara (wanna-be-farmer and local high school student) and So-Yoen (community service volunteer and kimchi lover). Great folks with whom to work and celebrate glorious weather!