|The sun is setting on this particular season|
It Stopped Raining
The first thing that significantly helped me to thing more positively was the appearance of the sun. It is absolutely amazing to think about the number of days we went without seeing it AT ALL. On the other hand, it is interesting how Mother Nature decided to terminate that cycle of dreary and wet days.
Yes. It decided to snow. The official reading was one inch in Tripoli. The first full inch of snow is more typical of mid-November than mid-October. But, given the history of 2018's weather, it actually seems appropriate. I was actually predicting that we would have a Halloween snowstorm, but I think this actually qualifies well enough. I just had the feeling that some early snow was going to happen - and there it was last Sunday.
Fall Crops Are Historically Our Strong Suit
I took a couple of moments to remind myself that August through October is typically high time for crops and crop variety on our farm. Yes, it is true that the Summer crops quickly dwindle in September (cucumbers, zucchini, melons). But, we've also used our high tunnels to good effect to extend tomatoes, peppers and green beans most seasons. Broccoli and cauliflower are often wearing their best clothing for us at this time.
|Just like last year's cauliflower|
Better Results Are Only a Year Away
Last year was not our best season on the farm, though it did have a number of highlights. We broke long standing farm records for broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. We also set shorter-term records for things like cherry tomatoes and turnips. Other crops did more poorly than usual (cucumbers and melons to name a couple) and we had continuing issues with chemicals and normal issues with weather and life as usual.
|Early reports on 2017 Winter squash was very good.|
It Isn't Because We Don't Know What We're Doing
Ok. Ok. You could argue that we don't know what we're doing if you don't agree with what we're doing. That's fine. In fact, I frequently criticize myself for how things end up getting done (or not getting done) each and every season. But, we do have documentary proof that our techniques continue to evolve as we learn and that they have resulted in some decent results at least once in a while.
|The early beans on the left look FANTASTIC!|
The point here is that between issues created by a changing climate and issues created by alterations in chemical applications by agribusiness, there are some harsh realities that growers are going to have to face. One such reality is that we will continue to see an increase in lost crops every season. Happily, a farm such as ours is able to replant many of our crops until the window opens up for a crop to be successful. We just need to set ourselves up to be even more willing to terminate failures and try again. We've had success before, we can have success again. We just have to persist.
Building Confidence for Future Success
It is tempting to think that someone who has done something since 2005 has no need to build confidence. After all, if our farm is still going in 2018, we must have had some success and surely there is no self-doubt.
A season like this one, however, is more than just the trials of struggling to improve. This one was a gut check that shook even the parts of the farm that we felt had 'gotten easier' for us. That is why we are taking time now to plan for 2019 before the lessons of 2018 have any chance to fade. It is also why we are looking to prior success to build confidence that we can do again what we have done in the past with one difference.
We intend to do it better.