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Farm Update, July 22, 2016

Standing at one of the highest points of the farm overlooking all the other vegetable beds I follow Godofredo’s direction and pull out my leatherman’s blade to slice a section of 2” hose.  Jeff is at the other end of the farm down by the well, awaiting our signal to turn on the water.  There is a quiet suspense beneath the backdrop of a dramatic evening sky with whispering corn fields and swooping finches.  I think out loud that I feel like I’m on a movie set and I am actually praying there is a happy ending.  Despite the disguise of a beautiful evening there is a feeling of unease in the air.  It’s been a long day, there is still so much to be picked, however we’ve got a situation on our hands which has to take precedence.  Godofredo has a tired and worried look about him but he has such a calm demeanor that most people wouldn’t notice. We are patching a burst irrigation hose which moments earlier shot a geyser thirty feet into the air.  This is actually a good sign.  The past 48 hours have been a whirlwind of emotions ranging from the smooth sailing of daily routine, the startling discovery of a crisis, deteriorating into panic and despair.   Now we are grasping at hope with fingers crossed and a possible solution.  We all take a deep breath, put our heads together and approach the problem solely with the intent of solving it.  It all comes down to this moment.  We signal to Jeff to turn on the water.  There is a pregnant pause of suspense followed by a most welcomed slurping, stretching, and rumbling as the hoses expand becoming rock solid while we all smile a deep sigh of relief.

This week was all about water.  We discovered something wasn’t working properly with our well and our plants weren’t getting the drink they craved.  Was it mechanical or was there some other deeply rooted horror?  We couldn’t even fathom the consequences but had to ask the question, “what if the well was drying up?”  As we approached the problem, we managed to pinpoint the area of our injector pump.  There seemed to be enough pressure going in, however bulging hoses and sharp turns with soft lines coming out told the story.  We needed to redesign our system.  Currently we are bypassing it to test our theory, and thankfully it seems to prove correct.  Water prefers to follow the path of least resistance. Tomorrow we redesign this stretch of irrigation.

This wake up call reminds me of how dependent we are on water and how precious it is.  I am humbled by this notion.  No matter how smart and advanced we think of ourselves as a species, without it we are doomed.   It is the essence of life.  This week I rediscovered our bond and felt how closely connected we are.  For instance, at the farm as the water pressure dropped my blood pressure increased.  As the water pressure increased my blood pressure dropped.  The notion of not having it is terrifying.  Yet we take it for granted all the time.  No more leaky sinks or running toilets.

At the end of the week I renew my vows as I lay beside a secluded waterfall in the Shenandoah National Forest with my daughter on our swimming hole adventure.  It feels like a shrine or some lost temple buried in the jungle and we are adventurers discovering something new.  I’ve been so busy that we haven’t been able to spend much time together and it’s her last day before heading off to camp for a month.  It’s glorious. She leaps and cannonballs into the water on a hot summer’s day making a huge splash and tames tiger swallowtails on the shore.  I lay back in the sun on a bed of smooth weathered stone, with my dripping wet curls as a pillow and my eyes closed listening to the reassuring gush of the falls.  Music sweet music.
So now we are back to business at the farm.  Our tomatoes are huge and beautiful and are are breaking color.  We have picked our first beefsteak and heirlooms red on the vine, and are picking about 1200 pints of the sweetest and juiciest cherry tomatoes you’ve ever tasted.  We will be picking about 200 bushels of eggplants, beans, peppers, cucumbers, and zucchinis this coming week.  Okra is just starting out and the basil is lush and flavorful, the perfect accompaniment for those cherry tomatoes.  Have a great week everyone, stay cool and don’t waste water.

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