Early in spring we decided we wanted to take the next step in our on-going goal to make this farm that much more earth friendly. We have ponds here that hold our irrigation water until we are ready to use it via our drip irrigation system. When the drought of 2002 hit, and we ran out of irrigation water, we made the decision then to put all our production field into drip irrigation instead of sprinkler irrigating. There have been many years that we were super happy we made that decision, but this year I think we are the most grateful of all. Anway, more about that in a bit. So, we have these ponds and we need to airate them to keep down the algae growth and make them healthier for the wildlife that uses them too. We also have grass carp (which we fondly call our “sharks”) in the ponds, which are vegetarian fish, every large, that eat the alage. Still, without the airators the ponds would get stagnet and be horrible, plus they would be mosquito breeding grounds, which we absolutely do not want to have happen. We have an electric pond bubbler to put oxygen into the pond water, but we decided this year that it would be more earth friendly if the airators could be wind powered instead of using electricty. Granted, the electricity used here during the day is produced by our own solar system, but at night we are still hooked into the grid for our electrical needs. A windmill would mean that the ponds would get freshly airated without the need to use electricity. Cool Beans!
We made the investment back in early spring to purchase the windmill. That was before the greenhouse furnace went out and had to be replaced, and before we learned that we will most likely have to start buying trucked-in water because of the drought. Oh well, hind sight is only useful to a point, isn’t it. We bought the windmill prior to the other events, and this past week Chris has been building it. I have never seen so many bags of nuts and bolts and screws in my life!!
Tonight, we carefully moved the windmill out into the orchard so that he can finish building it there. He was working on it in the garage, but it is too big now to fit in there. The windmill will be 12 feet tall when it is completed and will sit up on the banks of the ponds with two airators attached to it and each one feeding fresh wind generated air into each respective pond. We figure it is going to require 4-6 people to move the beast to it’s permanent location when Chris finishes with the building. I think it is going to look very sexy up there on the pond banks. And…I feel very blessed to have a husband who not only can build things like this for the farm, but enjoys it too.
On another note, a couple of weeks back we were notified by both our municipal water company and our irrigation company that the drought is seriously, and I mean seriously, impacting our water supplies for both the farm and the household. We have been put on stage 1 water restrictions for our municipal household water. Last weekend may end up being the last irrigation water delivery we get for the farm’s needs this year unless it starts to rain generously in our watershed. Chris and I did the math. We are faced with the very difficult prospect of having to have water trucked into the farm in order to keep our crops alive and hopefully get some sort of harvest from the seed crops. That will require a huge tanker truck to deliver water regularly for the purpose of watering the crops. We also purchased, just today, a 300 gallon water tank that we haul water with ourselves to use to help support the food gardens and hopefully keep our trees alive. All this and the prayer that the summer monsoon season will not only start soon, but will be a good one this year, but that is an unknown at this point. It is proving to be a challenging and very expensive farm season this year!
These baby plants were newly planted two weeks ago as part of our seed crop production. They are agastache plants. Because the water is in short supply, Chris is hand watering these babies until they can get themselves rooted in and be sustained by the normal drip irrigation.
This is another method Chris is using to keep the deer from foraging off these tiny baby plants. The wire allows pollinators to come and go freely, but the deer cannot browse off the tops of the little plants until they get bigger.
Lizz and I are finally, finally getting a bit of time now to start weeding and caring for the gardens. During the spring season, the wholesale greenhouse business is too intense to leave any time for working the gardens, but now there is beginning to be some time available. The weeds and grass that has moved into the gardens in the interim is over the top terrible, so this is definately not a small task. Lizz worked all morning on one small corner of the garden. I worked on another area last weekend. It feels really daunting, but the reality is that it is like this every year and we will just keep at it until the gardens are nice again. Of course, this year they will not be very abundant, and certianly not lush, because we can water them in only the most conservative way, but they are tough and I think we will get them through if we are careful.
The Zinnia grandiflora is a native wildflower around these parts, and it is one of the plants we grow as a seed crop. As you can see, this little creature is not the least bit concerned about the drought and is flowering and going about its business like there is no reason for concern what-so-ever. These are very cheerful and bright little flowers, about 2-3 inches tall and litterally covered solid with quarter-sized yellow flowers. A bright spot for sure!