Preparing for Flooding…

Who would’ve thought that we’d be preparing for a flood at the end of July – not us, that’s for sure! Well, looks like from the hydrograph at the left (the Intervale farmers’ bible during rainy times), that it is a fairly definite certainty that we’ll be under some amount of water by Friday mid-morning (the graph is about 8 hours ahead of our location on the river). This prediction puts us at least where we were on May 20th, 2006. Year of the flood where our fields were at least 2 feet under water for around 24 hours – and others for much longer. Farmers lost plenty, but had most of the season to recover – planting had barely begun. This time, we’re in full swing, and the potential losses are not remotely funny to think about. Yet, that’s all we’re thinking about, of course. Hence, the late evening blogpost. What do we stand to lose – certainly the first flush of long-awaited tomatoes at least to cracking from the amount of rain (4 more inches today…), and very probably from the mildewing and blight that’s sure to come from all of the moisture. The life of the squash blossoms and the baby squashes will be cut short for sure with the inevitable mildew, the peppers could rot, the salad, arugula and lettuce heads will be unsaleable. The haricot vert, which had thousands of blossoms yesterday, will very likely set these first fruits, then be extremely susceptible to rust rot, vastly diminishing the yields. The artichokes are just beginning and could certainly get the black rot that happens with excessive rain. The garlic and the cipollini onions could have a very hard time curing with all the humidity, and therefore not store nearly as well as they should. We are fairly certain the potatoes and the carrots can handle the water – it all depends how long they are submerged….

So, what do we do now – besides sit up in a nervous panic all night – we have constructed a harvest plan for tomorrow to be reckoned with! Pictures like this one of our hoophouse with $3000 worth of lettuce heads in the flood of 2006 remind us that it would be prudent to harvest before the flood – SO. Our plan is to harvest out absolutely everything that is harvestable in preparation for being unable to harvest for the forseeable future. We’re pulling the remaining garlic and cipollinis, and trying to dry them in the greenhouse. Then (if it’s not underwater yet), we’ll harvest out the ready lettuce heads, radicchio, escarole, treviso, radishes, turnips, beets, salad and arugula – if they are underwater, they are lost to us. Next will be the peppers, eggplants, squashes, artichokes and cukes. Lastly, we’ll grab the carrots and potatoes that are ready.

This is a fairly nervewracking end to an otherwise uplifting day. We awoke to say goodbye to Spencer’s mom Nancy and stepdad Garth (who helped us tremendously with harvesting for market and deliveries over the past week while visiting us on their vacation – thank you, sooo much!). We also awoke to a rainy day. Since Nancy and Garth helped us get caught up with some farm chores, we figured we had a much-needed day to have our mid-season summer conference. We always take one day in the middle of the season to have a meeting where we take stock of where we are, where we’re headed and if there are changes we would like to make to the current plan, or things that we’d like to add for the fall planting. Basically, it’s a chance to take some much-needed overview notes in the heat of the season so that when we’re planning in February, we remember some key observations that were made when it mattered. It’s always a very nice time for us take a deep breath and pat ourselves on the back a little bit as well as decide what’s not going well so that we can make changes for a big finish to the season. As usual, we holed up at Dobra Tea downtown and made our big plans. We were feeling good about how the meeting went, and then we made our way back home in the rain to continue the discussion. Discreetly, Spencer had a chance to check the hydrograph (as we’re all wont to do during extended rainy times), and then he broke the news to me. The upbeat meeting ground to a screeching halt, and plans for a major harvest started taking shape. We’re forced to leave the agenda items “The Big Picture for Half Pint Farm” and “Plans for the Haygrove” and “Half Pint Farm’s place in the Food Revolution” for another day. We simply can’t think of the future when our present is at imminent risk. Well, off to bed, then early to rise for what promises to be an extremely long day! Wish us luck! And if you have a few moments, and some Muck boots, come on down to the farm and lend a hand – we’ll appreciate any help we can get.

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