Farm News

Weathering Change

photo of a frog on bagged produce at the farm

Pseudacris regilla, the Pacific Treefrog, is the state frog of Washington. This little guy hopped a ride from the lettuce field in a harvest crate to surprise the packing shed crew. Brad, of course, made sure he found a cooler, greener home.

Weathering Change

Now it is August and the heat bears down hard. I rise exceptionally early so my work can be done in the coolest hours of the day. I fill extra water troughs to ensure livestock stay hydrated, and I double down on irrigation schedules to help vulnerable plants weather the weather. All the while I work, I am thinking of the commitments I’ve made: to my animals, my plants and to you– my human community.

Expertise and heart. For five years, with no summer irrigation, and at the near center of our field operation, this wild chicory has found a way to both live and bloom—abundantly.

Experienced and diligent farmers know there are a good number of things they can do to soften the blast of heat and drying summer winds. I can teach myself the science of evapotranspiration, absorb studies regarding temperature effects on the physiological workings of plants. I can delay transplanting fall crops, store them cooped up in shaded houses, and hope they’ll not be too stunted to produce marketable food. I can learn the most critical developmental stage of all our annual crop families, and strategically schedule plantings to avoid undue suffering. I can hand water new orchard saplings and pull shade cloth over tomato houses. I can rely on drip irrigation, mulching, and windbreaks to increase irrigation efficiencies and reduce plant stress. From long-range efforts that strengthen soil health and improve heat-tolerant seed varieties, to the day-to-day in the trench tactic of literally carrying water, I’m proactively doing all I can think of to prevent unnecessary loss.

Such heat is new and daunting territory for me– territory in which it is easy to succumb to a sad irony. This very minute we humans are tipping the balance of climate patterns on a global scale. But right here, today, on my own farm, I can’t change the weather.

As an agrarian, I’ve learned that being well educated and astute is not enough. Like the fields you care for, you too must find a way to be of good heart. But being of good heart is also simply not enough; to survive one must be knowledgeably resilient.

These days, when I feel myself reaching the top of my own heat index, I retreat to the shade of my porch for a glass of ice water. This is not entirely a respite. Having done all I can physically do, I face the equally formidable, age-old task which at some point, has confronted every farmer. I must find the courage to expose my good heart to the expansive, uncertain reality of letting be what will now be. ~AJ

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