Sunday, June 8, 2008

re-pre occupied

Flooding.  Again; here.  For those not aware, last fall we lost our walking tractor in the floods (a 20 year old Mainline, worked fine).  But it wasn't on our farm; it was in town, undergoing pre-harvest maintenance; and the water came over the dikes, so that, and our other commercial mower (17 hp diesel) were totally underwater for 3 days.  Not worth fixing.

This time, the new Grillo is under a roof, on our farm; and oddly enough I didn't build anything here on flood plain; so it's perfectly safe.

Our neighbors are not, however; rain's still falling, scheduled to do so for another 24 hours.  We've had a measly 4" so far; to the south, they've had 10 so far-

We did spend an hour in the root cellar last night- tornado warning; the real thing, and tracking right towards us.  It missed, though I haven't been over the farm yet to see what-all happened. busy busy! Hey, the DSL is still working!

I'm feeling bad for the neighbors.  All their newly planted corn and beans are going to be under water or washed out, with deep gullies cut in the newly plowed fields sitting there naked in the rain.  My own fields will be unaffected; but the creek down in our valley is now running high and dark brown, carrying the neighbors' soil away.

Traditional row crop agriculture is now going to be much less tenable, as global warming proceeds, for a flock of reasons.  You hear about drought, and change, as problems; but the one I see as devastating is the great increase in torrential rainfall- the rapid runoff cuts right through those nice "conservation tillage" practices; cutting gullies, stripping soil.  

Farmers find those gullies embarrassing; a sign of poor stewardship- so mostly they tend to hide them.  Plow over, pretend it never happened.  But that soil is now gone, forever.  And the fertility.

Farm exports!  For decades, we've crowed that we feed the world!  The strength of our wonderful farm economy! 

Apart from any quibbles about that- what we actually export, when we ship soybean oil to China is- our soil.  Our children's future.

Now, faster than ever; much faster.

So, after getting out, during a break in the rain- hey, we've got a foot of water in the "root cellar"- also the storm cellar, and our seed cellar- not good.  Got a little electric pump running on the backup generator- but it's a major pain.  The cellar is like on the top of a hill- should it be flooding?  Heck no- but the ground is so wet it's sheeting off; and it is finding its way down the entryway (which was badly designed; long story).

Other than that- it's wet, the food garden is fine; we've got a ton of frogs singing in the pond that were quiet yesterday; trees are fine except for a few showing leaf damage from high storm winds hitting soft new leaves.

never a dull.


Crunchy Chicken said...

I'm glad to hear that you weren't impacted too much. Yet. Let's hope the floods avoid your area.

We're having really weird weather over here. It was snowing on the lowest pass here (Cascades) Friday morning and we're destined to have weather in the 50s and 60s until the end of July. Good thing I like kale.

Anyway, too bad you don't live closer - I'm a master with the Wet/Dry Vac.

Michelle Ellis said...

It must be hard to see your neighbors bad decisions come to fruition.

In WA state, we're having some super weird weather as well. The rivers are over the banks but hopefully, won't flood.

WILDBLUESbysus said...

We're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave...
Yup, New England is soon to be the new tropics. Our yard looks like a jungle. And the bugs, little creatures I've never seen before are joining in the new climate.

Glad you're coping. I agree that water will be the biggest issue for all.

RC said...

It rained here much more than usual last year on what is a rather dry Caribbean Island normally, maybe 45 inches a year. Last year was probably 65 inches. But I like it, I am so far not complaining about my climate shift. And better a foot of water in the basement than a 300 mph tornado massaging your abode.

jewishfarmer said...

Please stay safe. Fingers crossed that things will settle. We had 3 inches of rain overnight on Friday, and another 2 inches last night, but in between it has been so hot (bleah - 94 expected today - and the house gradually keeps up, so by today, the inside low is above 70 to start with - bleah again) and so much of our land is in sod that we're ok - no serious flooding, and, of course, we've had nothing like you have.

A lot of the corn farmers, though, are seeing their fields stripped - and we don't have the topsoil you do. The dairy farmers who used to buy their corn are growing it here now, since it is so expensive, and they are tilling steeper fields than they used to - not good, given that we don't have much topsoil to begin with.


Hank Roberts said...

I've been wondering -- any research figures estimating the total amount of topsoil lost since the invention of agriculture? How much carbon was stored therein? (How much carbon could we store by putting it back?)

Civilizations bury themselves effectively as soon as they quit weeding the grass growing between the buildings (or they build a new story atop the old and let the old become a new basement, but that only worked with stone buildings, our stick-built houses have to be kept free of encroaching topsoil).

Anonymous said...

Here in my area last month we had 13 inches of rain. (9 had been the old high.) And June is not turning out any drier. The farmers and harvest crews are having a hard time cutting the wheat. And, personally, just an hour or two out in the garden and I come in muddy and covered with mosquitoe bites. I can't bike to work for fear of the weather turning on me. No fun riding home during a tornado watch. We also had a high in May for the number of tornadoes.

I feel the pain too Greenpa.

Leila said...

Question from the Lebanese farmer's grand-daughter:

Does terracing prevent topsoil loss?

Can't cows graze pasture land? well I guess the corn is for the winter. What about barley and other grains - can't cows eat those? Are there ways to raise cattle feed that don't risk topsoil loss as much as growing corn in this fashion? said...

Lots of rain here, too, in Indiana, with tornado watches and warnings to go along with it. Yech. I don't remember it ever being so stormy as it has been the last year or so...

Hope the rains slow down for you. Enjoy your blog.

Greenpa said...

Leila - terracing can stop soil loss- but.

If it's not done just right- the failure of the terrace during a big storm can cut worse than the slow rill erosion over the years. And terraces and big machines are not comfortable partners.

It can be done- but it's expensive to install them, and they require meticulous maintenance.

Grazing is a huge long subject! Meat and dairy are very different- part of the corn is to maintain the extremely high milk output the system is now tuned for; if you have a breed of cows adapted to just grass for milk production, they'll produce far less milk; like less than half, of what the big Holsteins do. Economics. Grass fed dairy is a niche market- expensive, need a big city close by to sell to- just tricky all around.

Catch 22; all over the place.

Chile said...

Interesting tale of drought and run-off gullies: The Man Who Farms Water.

daharja said...

Weird weather all over. We got our second dumping of snow - in June! First dump was in middle of May, and now the second a couple of days ago.

In our climate (very temperate mainland NZ) we're only meant to get a couple of inches in the whole year but I brushed a good couple of inches off the car the other morning.

We're also getting real hard frosts - enough to build ice that will shatter in centimeter thick panes.

Isn't it wonderful what a difference humanity has made to the planet? *sigh*