We made the mistake of beginning to feel like we were getting somewhere. Still way behind, but actually making some progress.
And, now we have heat, humidity and ... of course... rain. We like rain. But, not so much that we need to consider building an ark...or a bubble. Normal rainfall for the Waterloo area through this point of the year is somewhere around 20-24 inches. Official records show that we are a foot ahead of that amount. Consider that this is half again as much as we normally get. I guess we should not be surprised if soils are saturated and if there are issues because of this.
We don't want to complain. We don't like to complain. We know other places have much more difficulty than we have. We do have water in the fields again, but we have not had any serious wind or hail damage. We are both generally healthy, if a bit tired. We are aware of lots of people who support us. And, it looks like things may dry out and cool down next week after we get through the forecast rain around Friday.
Part of the result of these weather difficulties is that we are continuing to brainstorm ideas that can make the farm more resilient. We've taken steps in the form of a bigger tractor and a high tunnel. We have taken another step this year by continuing to try to plant more successions of crops in hopes that there is enough time this fall for them to mature. We've done more with mulch - and that seems to help in some situations. We're continuing to improve how we raise the poultry by making new shelter spaces and giving them more room on pasture.
things we are considering for the future:
- Raised Beds - no, we are not talking about wood enclosed beds, that would not be feasible. However, on our scale, we could find tools to raise and reshape the beds each spring. This will not solve everything. And, heavy downpours will degrade the beds. But, we would also consider a sturdy annual cover crop in the tire paths between each raised bed.
- Swales - the site we link to is more concerned with using swales to control urban runoff. However, we can consider this as well. One issue is the amount of grading necessary to make it work. Essentially, a swale is a shallow ditch. But, for it to work, we need the area we want to be less wet to be higher the swale (of course). Obviously, this should allow water to slowly soak into the ground in places that are NOT where the veg is.
- Tiling - we're not sure we want to dump water into the ditch so it can drain away. We would rather give it the chance to filter through naturally and replenish the underground aquifers. On the other hand, there is some potential advantage to tiling and draining into water holding tanks. We could then consider using solar powered pumps to irrigate during dry periods.
- Cover crops - We've been trying to add more cover crops to our operation as companions or to cover bare soil at the beginning and end of the growing season. But, we are beginning to wonder if we should reduce the amount of cash crop space and increase the amount of cover crop space. If the weather doesn't allow us to work with the field space we plan to cultivate, then perhaps we should stop trying to work it all.
- Reforming our field configurations on the farm - some fields are better than others with respect to water holding/shedding qualities. So, we are considering moving plots around and change things to take more advantage of natural tendencies.
Regardless of what happens, we wanted everyone to know that we are considering many options - not all of them listed here - and we are hopeful that we can get a good combination figured out and done that will make us a more resilient operation with improved production consistency. All of that while still maintaining organic, sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.
Let's see if we can manage it.