Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Farm Blues

What happens when ice balls fall from the sky and meet up with organic produce? How about one hour producing four inches of rain?

Bad things.

The picture of dirt with a tiny bit of green was taken late spring when we spent a Saturday morning planting asparagus.

The bounty of vegetables was snapped last week after just a few minutes of gathering the plentiful harvest and leaving behind much, much more to continue ripening.

The farm resembled picture A more than picture B yesterday. Except the true picture was far worse. More like picture A's desolation but with piles of vegetable carnage, too. Twenty minutes of hail (softball sized followed by golf-ball sized) followed by torrential rain on Thursday did a lot of damage around my home. I've got holes in my siding and dents in my roof and vehicles. But those are all covered by insurance and replaceable. Annoying, will be costly because of deductibles, but it had no impact on my job or income potential.

However, the organic farm was hammered where it hurts. The lush, tall corn stalks that hid the pickers from each other are decimated into three feet tall splintered spikes, if that. Melons and tomatoes lay strewn where their bodies were smashed by hailstones. Little sets on plants were destroyed by being knocked from the plant and their life source. Hailstones hammered the high tunnel leaving holes the size of baseballs. A small river took out rows of produce in a mini-flood.

This is one of the unfortunate realities of farming. Bugs, prices/marketplaces and weather conspire against and discourage growers.

Could there possibly be an upside?

The sun shone. We cut kale back to encourage new growth because there was new growth to encourage.

Struggling plants needed weeding.

A few melons clung to the vine, whomped on but not beaten. They may make it and grow to wear their hail scars proudly. A miracle survivor tomato was found hiding under an untouched vine.

The farmers are focusing on the life that remains and choosing to avoid looking at the garden as a battlefield with the wounded, dead and dying strewn about.

Our box of produce will be more precious. We have seen (and on the tiniest scale have experienced) the blood, sweat and tears that go into the growing and harvesting.