By Christine Tailer
Until yesterday, rain was something I seem to only vaguely recall. The grass out in the orchard and around the edges of the fields is so parched it appears more yellow than green. Greg smiles and says that at least he doesn’t have to mow twice a week. The last time we got out on the zero-turns also seems like a distant memory.
Without a doubt, my garden is struggling, though the sage is amazingly bountiful. The summer squash and zucchini were thankfully big enough when the rain stopped, that their leaves were able to blanket the ground and hold in what precious moisture there was. They are now just beginning to flower. The same holds true for the sunflower patch. They are thriving, but the tomatoes, peppers, basil and dill are quite another story. They look tiny and are definitely are far from thriving.
This then, is my quandary. Do I set out my sprinklers, water my long garden rows, for what could be weeks, and eventually harvest a rather costly garden crop, or do I try to take the four-wheel drive green machine down to the creek, and over the course of multiple trips, gather up multiple buckets of water to pour along the garden rows? Perhaps after two days of truly hard labor, I would be able to water every plant with creek water. This would no doubt provide me with a wonderful workout, but on further consideration, the creek is actually quite dry, and it would be difficult to find a deep enough pool to even fill up my bucket. What is usually waist deep running water has turned into stagnant puddles and shallow trickles.
The sadly dry creek however, did help me resolve my quandary. Rather than spend two back-breaking days hauling water buckets up to the garden, in just a matter of minutes, I was able to run the greenhouse hose from the frost-free spigot by the pasture out into the middle of my garden. There, I heartily stomped the industrial strength sprinkler down into the dry ground and bent down to attach the garden hose.
Then, once the late afternoon sun had slipped behind the valley hill, I pulled up on the pasture spigot handle and watched as a long spray of water arched across half the garden. All seemed to be working just as it should, and I left to prepare dinner, letting my thirsty plants drink up the spray. After dinner I returned to the garden, pushed down on the spigot handle, and shut off the water. I wondered how the water bill was going to change.
The following morning, I could clearly see that the watered half of the garden was looking quite chipper. I smiled. Let the water bill be whatever it might be. That evening I changed the direction of the sprinkler and watered the other half of the garden.
I am always checking the forecast. It actually calls for one day of rain followed by another spell of 10 dry days. Sadly, it looks as though we might be in for a long, dry summer. Perhaps we won’t get a second cutting of hay, and we may not be able to cool off in the creek after a long day’s work. Yes, there is nothing quite like sitting mid-channel, with our backs up against the rock ledges as the cool water splashes across our shoulders. It really is the perfect way to end a hot creek valley day, but Greg smiles. It seems that this summer, there might not be much mowing to be done, and this will give him more time to tinker with the many projects in his shop.
Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.