Friday, September 7, 2012

and so it continues....

I have come to learn after four years of farming full time that people seem to think that farmers do nothing but complain.  So Michael and I have always tried to be on the happy side and keep our woes and worries to ourselves but this year has been the one when if someone has asked how we are the response has generally not been with a smile!

Fall comes early!
We have not seen much relief from the high heats and lack of rain since our last update.  Since July we have had about an 1" of rain.  That was until the fourth of September when the rain started at 4.45am stopped for an hour so our farrier could trim our horses feet and then the rain continued to fall through until about 10pm at night.  Sadly the rain yesterday was too little too late for most of our garden.  It will help with the well and also our cistern.  However it won't help any of the farmers growing any type of crops as it really has come too late in the season.

For some it is hard to believe that they may have had rain 5km away from the farm and we have seen nothing.  We have spent many a day seeing the rain and storm clouds roll in and over the farm and not leave a single drop on our soil.  Then friends would call to ask if we got any rain and they would let us know that they had had an 1" of rain in 30 minutes.  Some days it felt very frustrating.

A huge thank-you does go out to some of our CSA members, good friends and our newest neighbours who pulled on their wellies (rubber boots) and came out to the farm to help water and weed, to both our Mums who got onto planes and headed over form Alberta and England to help and also to one of our CSA members who loaded up his car and trailer with additional water for our garden. Your help was greatly appreciated by both Michael and I. The letters of support have also kept moral up when it started to hit rock bottom.
Sadly, how ever much we watered and mulched it really did not make that much of a difference to some crops.  We have lost watermelons, pumpkins, fall squash, broccoli, cabbage, kale and the list does go on.
The help we received did help save our second planting of beans, some of the zucchini, eggplants and hot peppers, kohlrabi and kept the beets going.
Our spring has been our only water source for well over a month for the whole farm and it is starting to feel the strain.  Last week the humidity spiked again and we had sprinklers on our chickens out on pasture, making wallows for 10 pigs, keeping turkeys, egg laying chickens, horses, three humans hydrated and trying to keep transplants alive.  We have managed on several occasions to run the spring below the height of the filter and it takes 24 hours for the height to recover.  So we are having to prioritise our usage and where it goes and pump for only just an hour before the head height drops.  We have six weeks remaining till the end of the CSA and we are doing everything we can to get to the end, but it is going to be a challenge.  It is heartbreaking to see all the planning, planting  just disappear in front of our eyes, all we needed this year was a little help from Mother Nature and she did not want to play ball.
It is not only us that is feeling the strain, farmers who grow cash crops are also suffering. We have heard of farmers who are selling their farms, others are on suicide watch as they are losing their livelihoods due to this drought.  There are going to be tough times ahead for farmers this winter and into next year.  For many of us who purchase feed for animals we have already seen the price of animal feed rise over the last few months and this will be a continuing trend over the next year, this increase and the drought in America and even Russia will see food prices rise again next year.
All we can do is hope and pray that our CSA members have still enjoyed the experience and are happy to take the risk again next year and come back and support the farm for another season.

Captain Virgil Hilts
While we have been dealing with the lack of rain we are being kept on our toes by one of our young piglets called "Virgil Hilts" after Steve McQueen's character in The Great Escape.  For some reason Virgil has decided that his huge paddock that he shares with his four brothers and one sister is just not big enough and he has started to escape on a regular basis and likes to go for a little romp and root up around the rest of the field! For some reason Virgil is impervious to the electric fencing unlike his siblings! He is causing quite the stir around the farm at present.

Evening check to make sure Virgil is still in the paddock!