Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Mighty Winter

Things go out of balance.  Things go awry.  2012 was a tough year on the farmstead.  Here at LJF we experienced a February where the weather turned to 80F and stayed there for 2 weeks, without rain.  All this just after having planted 500 white spruce Christmas trees.  We bucketed rainwater, having no well, and having none of the customary cool, damp TN February weather, to 500 thirsty spruce seedlings.  Needless to say, this heat stress slammed them.  We lost most of that planting.  It is depressing, as every single one of these trees was planted by hand.  Not a small task for us.  We had worked for days to do it.  It was taken out of our hide.  The loss of the crop was keenly felt.

So it was buckets, buckets, buckets.  Every day, every day, every day. Didn't work.  One does not plant conifers in the dead heat of summer.  This was a false summer, but summer weather it was.

The ticks absolutely thrived in this weather.  It is possible that they barely went to sleep for the winter in 2012.  The spring was spent with regular tick checks on all of the human and animal inhabitants of the farm.  It was nothing to close the day with a tick check and find 4-8 ticks on each person. 

I have already written about the rodent issue in a previous post.  The infestation of rats in the fields preceeded our arrival when we bought the place.  Our first effort at reclaiming part of the hayfield by bush-hogging revealed many rodents leaping from under the tractor in all directions.  I have to imagine that the local ecosystem is bountiful enough to provide for such a population, and that predators are few.

However, when we inserted our will into the equation, things went badly.  The invisible legion (I have to keep calling it that) crawled from below ground to wreak havoc on everything I did.  William and I apportioned our labor such that he would build farm structure, and I would tend to crops.  I was maddened by the removal of seeds from the ground in my garden plantings.  The destruction of vegetables at the point of harvest made me crazy.  I have already detailed this here so I will spare you the repeat.

2011-2012 was the year without a winter in my opinion.

But, this year is shiny with hope.  We have had snow, we have had sub-freezing temperatures.  I know if you are reading from northern states that you will now sniff at me.  For TN though as with the rest of the country, I think a "traditional" winter is important (for the environment and for people, whom are part of the environment), and it is just the thing we are losing during this epoch of Global Weirding.  As weather oscillates from the old pattern to the new pattern, whatever that turns out to be, we may see our customary farm plans fall apart if they do not take these changes into account.  However, resiliency and playing the averages has its limits.

My dream, and it is a small one, is that this cold weather will kill off some ticks, starve out some rats, and restore normal for one more year. Welcome to farming.