Tag Archives: flood

expect the unexpected

Saturday morning offered proof-positive that farming is very much an Old Testament endeavor, complete with Noachian flood.

But before we get to the exciting bit, first the antediluvian build-up:

Friday was the Fourth of July. (Happy fourth, everyone.) While barbecues, fresh corn, and late-afternoon dips in the pool are wonderful, woe to the farmer who also has a social life: after a lovely visit with friends, we had the great idea to stop and watch the end of the Healdsburg fireworks.
Fireworks mean traffic. Emmett and I got stuck in walking-would-be-faster traffic for half an hour, came home, packed up the car for the market this morning, and fell asleep sometime around midnight.
We awoke at 4:40 a.m., shoveled cereal into our tired faces, and headed off to harvest in the blue, pre-dawn gloom. We had to be at the Healdsburg farmer’s market by 8 a.m., since it was our first time attending. We thought we had plenty of time for the pre-market harvest & wash — nearly three hours for a manageable amount of salad greens, bok choi, and chard.

And we would have had plenty of time, if we hadn’t come upon one gushing pipe and one small lake that was rapidly encroaching on our tomato plants.

Some days it’s better to stay in bed. (I say that only facetiously, because in reality it was a damn good thing that we arrived on scene at 5 a.m. Had we gotten there a few hours later, the majority of our crops would have drowned.)

Emmett and I sprang into action. We grabbed some buckets, filled them with water, and then Emmett headed off to a different part of the vineyard to close the valves that fed the irrigation. I stayed by the pipe so I could raise my arms to let him know when the gushing stopped.

The gushing didn’t stop. Funny thing: when Emmett arrived at the irrigation control tower, the valves were closed. Adding to the mystery was one hand-written note, left by Emmett’s dad. We couldn’t actually get to the note, because it was on a small island surrounded by water, but I managed to read it by hopping onto another high point in the seas: “Hi Emmett, Sorry about the flood. I backed into the pipe last night. I’ll come down early to fix it so you can wash for the farmer’s market.”

I guessed that the note hadn’t been left while surrounded by water, and the closed valves also suggested that Emmett’s dad had turned off the irrigation — but that something had gone wrong.

In the end, the culprit wasn’t a sinful planet and a vengeful God, but rather an emergency switch that linked irrigation to the foreman’s house. The mystery was solved when the foreman awoke to find his water pressure gone kaput.

It just goes to show: when it comes to farming, you’ve got to expect the unexpected. Massive infestations of cucumber beetles? Sure. Flood, in the middle of summer with no clouds (let alone rain) in sight? You betcha.

(Note: photo was taken in the afternoon, after the water level had subsided a bit…)

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