Wednesday, April 7, 2010
For most of the year, the mountains are hidden behind a haze of dust and thunderstorm clouds. Every spring it surprises me again that morning when you wake up and the air is crystal clear and there are these huge mountains, right outside your window! Sierra Nevada indeed. If only my camera was better.
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Sunday, April 4, 2010
It's about 40 degrees but it feels like 20 after the weeks of warm spring days we've been having. The wind is howling around the house and the trees are swaying. The grapes have just leafed out. At least they don't have a bad year when that happens, unlike the almonds. This year it was pouring rain when the almond trees were blooming and the bees didn't wake up in time to pollinate them. A few days after the blossoms starting falling, it turned hot and the bees were on double time.
The sheep high tailed it to their covered silage pit (more on that later) last night, barreling through the electric fence. This morning, they are all strolling around nibbling on olive leaves- and weeds, to be fair- free and easy. As soon as they see us they all start bawling, of course. They hate getting wet now that their fleece is all gone. We sheared two weeks ago.
Besides creating a lot of weeds, this wet spring has allowed the irrigation district to start earlier. Get this though, it's a special extra 15 days starting April 5th, use it or lose it. The Federal Bureau of Reclamation just made the announcement a week or so ago, leaving water districts scrambling on either trying to store the water in their smaller reservoirs or just send it down the ditches and hope some poor fool of a farmer can use it.
Most farmers need at least 4 months notice of whether there will be water available or not. All the complaining last year stemmed from more people keeping acreage unplanted, well into this year, because no one could tell them yes or no. So they didn't plant, and now we had a wet spring and there's no one to use the water.
We can. We'll be putting our tiny Honda ditch pump into the canal and suck up as much metered water as we can. We can't wait. We ran the well once this winter and fall, but it's more expensive and the flow is such that we can't irrigate the whole field at a time. Not to mention, it depletes the aquifer and lowers the water table so that only the largest, deepest and most powerful (read: most expensive) wells can reach.
Our trees will be happy to get the drink, even with another small storm coming through now, there should be plenty of new roots to drink it all.