What a difference a week can make on the farm, and in California in general. Last Monday our area was actually under a Fire Weather Watch, with dry wind blowing dust everywhere. One week later and the farm is a muddy mess.
It was still dry on Thanksgiving, as the first storm last week essentially missed us completely. But we received five inches of rain over the weekend from the second storm. At any other time during the winter, that much rain would likely have flooded our fields. But with the ground about as dry as I have ever seen it, it soaked up the moisture like a sponge. And with the storm arriving on the last day of the month, we jumped dramatically from the driest November on record to right around average.
One day — and three inches of additional rain — later, we were already ahead of last year for precipitation.
No matter how much we do to prepare, we’re never 100% ready for rain. When you have 5-6 months of completely dry weather, you tend to forget what happens when it rains. It’s nice to get a “fire drill” storm earlier in the fall, a nice light rain that reminds us of all the things we need to do differently when it’s wet. We didn’t get that this year.
Working in the rain and mud is not much fun. It’s also not very efficient. We usually do our best to watch the forecast and harvest as much as possible in advance, then work short days or not at all when the storms hit. But with most of our staff off for the Thanksgiving holiday, we didn’t get a chance to prepare. Most of the items in your boxes today were picked in the rain. We got lucky at least that since Monday the rain has been mostly gentle, with none of the crazy winds we had over the weekend.