April 12-Mother Nature’s Intemperance

  Today we were going to  plant tomatoes in this greenhouse in our lower meadow. Even had extra hands on board so we could accomplish great things. Imagine my surprise when I went to the paper box at 6:15 this morning and found this.  The Connecticut River decided to visit the greenhouses in the night. Oh joy…

It’s tough to suffer a paradigm shift so early in the morning – especially before coffee, but it frequently happens in farming. By the time people arrived for work I had managed to rearrange the day for the employees. Although getting  the tomatoes in the lower greenhouses was the number one priority in my day, there were a bunch of things that immediately got moved from the back burners.

Frequently these quick “change of plans” occur because weather is uncooperative. If you are putting up bird netting on the blueberries and a nasty storm comes up, you may find yourself sitting in a barn with 6 employees watching it rain while they are on the clock. Sometimes sitting out the storm is the appropriate thing to do, but if it’s early in the afternoon and you sense that the weather is going to remain threatening or inclement for the rest of the afternoon, maybe you should redirect the folks to cleaning out a greenhouse or some other job that exists on the ever-changing list of things to do.

Weather can work against you in more subtle ways. It isn’t always bad weather that can be vexing. Suppose you consult your weather services and you are assured that a soaking rainy system is going to deluge everyone on both sides of the Connecticut River in the Upper Valley. Okay, now you decide to transplant lettuce and cole crops in the late afternoon so they can get soaked in at night. Everybody works an hour late and gets all the transplants in the ground. Sweet. How about when you wake up to cloudless skies the next morning and there is not a drop of moisture in the rain gauge? After some cussing and some more coffee you have to rustle around and make sure that the irrigation pipe gets set up in yesterday’s transplants immediately after morning harvest,  lest the mid-day sun burn them all up.

A friend of mine maintains that having ADHD is a prerequisite for a career in farming. Probably so. You start out with a daily plan, with a long list of back-ups. You constantly are looking at your paper and rearranging it to accommodate employee sickness, machinery breakdown, changes in weather and a myriad other surprises. Rarely does a day come by that Anne or I are actually able to check off more than half of the things that initially were penciled in on our daily lists.

So I am making tomorrow’s list. I really want to get those tomatoes planted, but I doubt I will be able to do it, with the river being so high.  But then again, I might be surprised when I go out to get the paper.