water

It has been a wet spring. Water just keeps falling down from the sky… water in the form of rain, rain, rain! The weeds in the garden are getting a good hold right now and still the rain comes. But I’m not complaining, and I’m not going to. I will cherish all of this water especially as my thoughts drift to the conditions of one year ago: intense heat and no rain.IMG_2564

Precious rain water is what makes our gardens grow, after all. We rely only on the rain that falls from the sky to keep our gardens lush and verdant. We have never irrigated our gardens, and we don’t ever intend to. I suppose we might if conditions were desperate, but even with last year’s drought and heat wave, we fared ok. Our objective is to keep our garden soils full of organic matter so that they have the capacity to hold more water. Instead of spending our dollars on plastic irrigation pipes, we choose to spend them on straw or hay to use as mulch, to keep all of the soil’s moisture protected by a blanket of organic matter, which will decompose and nourish the soil.IMG_3016

But whenever the soil conditions in the garden are too wet to accomplish anything but sinking deep in the mud and doing more harm than good, we look for other things to keep our busy selves occupied. I often find myself puttering around the house trying to regain a bit of order from the neglected messes left in the wake of a busy spring. If the house is somehow in a state of cleanliness, I have been sitting down to my spinning wheel. The stir-craziness of indoor time subsides as soon as I sit down and feel the wool in my hands, my feet keeping time. Eric often finds inspiration to tackle a building project (as long as it is not pouring, in which case he finds a good book.) Right now, he’s working on extending the overhang on our outdoor kitchen (“the pavilion”) so that when we have lots of rain like we’re having now, we can still sit in the porch swing and not get dripped on. On one side of the pavilion is the kiwi trellis, so while he was working on the overhang it made perfect sense to tackle that unfinished project as well. And for the first time ever, the vines have set fruit… even more reason for a proper trellis.  IMG_3114Ira knows that when it’s raining the fish are biting so, not dissuaded by getting wet, he heads on down to the creek to catch what he will. It’s all good to Ira… be it a two-inch long baby gar or a two-foot long small mouth bass, each is a treasure from the water that he cherishes. The girls tend to hang with mama in the house during wet spells, playing and reading and making things. We’ve just inherited a couple of pairs of roller skates from some dear friends, so our house has become a roller rink for princesses during all of this rain. Quite amusing.IMG_3089Water courses through this farm like blood in veins. Sometimes when the branch (local term for stream) in front of the house is dry and we get a sudden downpour, we can watch the wall of water moving down the rocky stream bed, towards the big creek. It’s a fascinating thing to watch. From the vantage point of our rocking chairs on the deck, we’ve seen the water turn from an absolutely raging torrent to a giant still pool as the big creek spills it’s banks and all of the water flowing past our house backs up, having no choice but to sit still and wait for the chance to flow again.IMG_3100

We harvest and harness all sorts of water on this farm, from the hydraulic ram pump that Eric built to service the livestock’s water needs (using the force of gravity to make water flow uphill), to the gravity-fed spring water system that services our household water needs, to the thermo-siphon system that circulates through our wood cook stove to give us the luxury of hot-running water in the house, to the black painted barrels full of water in the greenhouse to help stabilize the air temperatures within. We have given lots of thought to water.IMG_3130

And now, after a warm and sunny day (finally… but remember, I’m not complaining!) filled to the brim with work and chores and sweat and dirt, my thoughts are drifting to a big glass of cool spring water and a refreshing dip in the creek. Have I mentioned that I love water?

(And for a little more reading on the topic of water, check out the current issue of Taproot magazine…)

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