What is it about farmers and rain? If you come upon a bunch of famers chatting, I promise you that weather will be one of the topics discussed. Weather, for a farmer, is a variable that cannot be controlled yet it is vital to a successful crop season. We openly fret about it, we quietly worry about and we often dream about it. Rain can be our best friend, but also our worst enemy.
During the fall and winter months, rain is not as much of an issue for Happy Earth Farm because most of our crops are either growing in the greenhouse or our raised beds. In the greenhouse, I control all the watering and the raised beds don’t require any heavy machinery at planting or harvesting time. During the spring and summer, on the other hand, rain is pretty much all we think and talk about.
In early spring we want rain, but not too much or else the field will be too soft and wet for the tractor to form the planting beds. Once the beds are in place and the seeds planted, we want moderate rain. Too much rain will flood the fields and wash away the seeds and organic fertilizer. Not enough rain and we have to use the irrigation system to water.
The summer months are when farmers could lose their minds worrying about rain. We need it…..and we need it often. Rain consumes us. In a perfect world, a steady, gentle rain would fall from about 4:00 a.m. until about 7:00 a.m. every day; wouldn’t interfere with planting or harvesting and we wouldn’t have to water.
The past few weeks have been particularly brutal around here, no rain and searing temperatures. Almost nightly we have seen pop-up storms forming around the farm, but every one of them has skirted by our acreage. The following day at the feed store or market the question is, “did you get any of that rain last night”. Our answer always seems to be “nope”. During our evening chores it has been the only thing we have talked about. “Think maybe we will get a pop-up this evening?” “Hope so because we sure could use it.”
This past Monday night started like every other evening. We put up the chickens and guineas, and closed up the barn. As we walked towards the house we both scanned the sky. The sky west of us was dark, very dark. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but it did seem promising. For the next hour both Steve and I alternately went to the window to check. The wind seemed to be holding and the path of the storm seemed favorable for us. I could literally see the bands of rain in the distance. The storm crept closer and closer, with the trees still swaying in the wind.
At 7:50, with a loud clap of thunder announcing it’s arrival, the sky opened up. The rain was pouring down with wild abandon and the sky looked so full of rain that we were certain to get a long, proper drenching. Excitedly I ran out to the covered portion of the deck to take in the splendor. Rain! A beautiful, pounding rain!
At 7:55 the door leading to the deck swung open and Steve burst out onto the deck. He looked to the sky and screamed, “Are you kidding me? Are you f**king kidding me!? The storm has shut down our satellite dish feed and the final episode of The Bachelor starts in 5 minutes!” Apparently Steve has shifting priorities.