Thursday, May 30, 2013

Liquid Assets?

The recent rains are on all of our minds right now.  People are worried about wet basements, flooding rivers and gardens that have yet to be planted.  We are also struggling with the rains on the farm and wanted to give you a quick look at what is going on here.  We're dealing with it.  But, sometimes, the sharing of a story is both therapeutic and educational.  So, we'll take a moment to give you some observations as to what is happening on the farm.

 This first picture is West of our farm.  It shows the lake that was our neighbor's corn field.  This is the picture that shows the most dramatic impact of the rains.  For many of our fields, there is greenery, etc that obscures how wet they are, so it is harder to see.  Some of the lightning strikes in this storm were hitting these new ponds instead of the taller objects in the area. 
This picture is blurry, we know.  But, we were trying to take pictures when the light was fading.  This shows some of the water in our cold frame/seedling area.  The cement slab in the back had water as high as 8 inches.  That's where the cold frames (and many seedling trays) were at the time this photo was taken.  Soon after they were moved out.  We've never really considered this an area where water would pond.  Why?  Because it never has before this storm.  We know of several other spots, but this wasn't on the radar.  It was still very damp today, but it was less a pond and more a muck and mire area.

We didn't get to other pictures, but we have more stories that fall into the "I never thought THAT would happen" category.

Our high tunnel is essentially an artificial desert environment.  The pathways are always dry and only the places we water with drip irrigation get wet.  Apparently, this offended the storms enough that they rained hard enough to cause waves of water to roll down our lawn and through the high tunnel from East to West.
Here is a March picture to help visualize this.  The high tunnel is at left.  As near as we can figure, the water from the buildings at right had nowhere else to go with the soil being completely saturated.   As a result, they followed the slight decline to the West and through the high tunnel.  We really thought we'd go work in the high tunnel today because it would surely be the only dry place on the farm.  We were wrong.  It was too wet to do work.  Absolutely amazing.

An acquaintance a couple of miles to our East installed a couple of ponds on his property with berms that might even exceed the recommended height to hold back water during heavy rains.  Each of his ponds overflowed in this rain.  As we discussed this with him all any of us could do was shrug and admit that nature has her way when she wants it.  But, it is still up to us to find ways to work with nature where our efforts do less harm than is currently the case (yes, that is the collective "we" and it does include our farm).

One of our workers is trying to do some horticultural farming on land by Dumont.  He reported that the beds he had planted and put plastic mulch on were destroyed by the torrential rains.  What a quick way to literally and figuratively dampen someone's spirits as they try to do the very thing they really wanted to do for a living.

We hope the next week or two is dry.  It will take at least one week for our fields to dry up enough to work.  We know there are people who are worried about flooding.  There are many frightened and worried people in Iowa right now and we must be prepared to provide support to each other.  And, once we get through this, we need to remember.  And, in remembering, maybe we can make some changes that help reduce the pain weather extremes can cause.

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