Just in case anyone thought that this year summer would start in March, April has asserted that she, at least, is going to pay more attention to tradition. Last night I drove Geoffrey to the airport in Minneapolis (he’s flying to Kenya as a delegate to the World Conference of Friends and will be gone for twelve days), and as we exited 494 for the airport we drove right into the heaviest rains I’d driven through in a long time. I finally drove out of the storm at Prescott and raced it home, arriving just as the first drops caught up with me again. The thunder and lightning lasted for less than two hours, and since then it’s been raining slow and steady. This morning I was talking to my mother-in-law when I happened to glance through the window and see something white falling along with the rain. “It’s snowing!” I reported, a little shocked.
“No it’s not,” Kathleen told me. We decided it must just be apple blossom petals falling outside the window. But we were wrong. It was snowing. Big, fat, fluffy flakes of snow, mixed with rain. So far we’ve gotten an inch of precipitation from this storm system, and more would sure be appreciated. Kathleen totaled up our precipitation from the past months and announced that we only got 1.2 inches of rain in the entire month of March, and we hadn’t had a storm with more than half an inch of rain since the end of February (we figure we need an average of an inch of rain a week in order for everything to grow well and germinate evenly). So even though I wasn’t looking forward to more snow and freezing weather, at least we seem to be pulling out of the drought spell we’d been in before. As our mentor David Van Eeckhout said the other day, it’s demoralizing to have to irrigate in April.
Weather is something that farmers never get tired of talking about. However, there are some other noteworthy things happening around here recently. As of Friday, we finally have high-speed wireless internet in the house, and I’m slowly getting use to having internet on demand again for the first time since I graduated from college. Another exciting bit of news I received this morning is that we are confirmed to sell at the Wednesday morning Eau Claire Downtown Farmer’s Market. On a different note, next Sunday I’m looking forward to having a troop of girl scouts help out around the farm for the day, thanks to the endless organizing skills of our friend and CSA member Frances Fischer. We have 23 chicks in a cardboard box in the front hall, and they’re doing their best to double in size every 24 hours (not quite, but they are growing quickly since they arrived on the 5th). Pretty soon we’re hoping to move them out to the chicken coop, which was recently vacated by our grown-up hens when they left their wild free-range days behind them and moved to Kathleen’s garden, contained by an electrified “poultry net” fence that several of them fly over every evening in their attempt to roost in our garden’s apple tree. We’re hoping they’ll soon see the error of their ways and settle down to being happy pastured poultry.
With Geoffrey gone for the next two weeks, I’ve been taking inventory of our projects and setting priorities. Our hoophouse/greenhouse has come through the storms and the wood furnace we’re borrowing from Geoffrey’s dad keeps all our baby plants (especially our little eggplant, peppers and tomatoes which have the place of honor next to the stove) toasty warm at night, making them grow like crazy. On cloudy wet days like today I’ll keep the fire burning in there all day. Our germination chamber is almost done, but in the meantime we’ve been able to set up its heating mats in our tiny cabin and germinate most things just fine in there, or on a bench behind the greenhouse stove. While Geoffrey’s gone my big challenge is installing the first half of our quarter-mile of electric deer fencing (the half that goes around our southern field, where our early spring stuff will get planted). Along with all the seeding, transplanting, tilling, firewood cutting, chicken chasing and logistical organizing that we always need to do, I reckon I’ll probably be staying out of trouble for the next two weeks.