Longjohn season is here at Terra Firma. Here at the farm, it’s something we look forward too all year.
If you live in the Bay Area, you probably don’t wear long underwear very often. Unless you’re a frequent visitor to Lake Tahoe or other Sierra areas, you may not have much reason to even own a pair. It may be chilly all summer in neighborhoods like the Outer Sunset, but there aren’t too many days when it doesn’t get above 45 degrees.
Even out here, where winter mornings can often hover just around freezing, there hasn’t been much call for longjohns the last few years. The cold mornings we’ve had have been followed quickly by warm sun and afternoons that could even be called “hot” for the time of year. On days like that, you find yourself needing to find a place to strip off the long underwear to avoid sweating. Better to just not to wear it in the first place and suffer through the first few hours of the day.
This week, though, it’s been old school Sacramento Valley cold: 33 degrees at sunrise with freezing fog. Bone-chilling, damp cold that seeps into your body and sucks your energy. By noon, it “warms” up to 48 degrees and by 3 to 53 or so, but the sun is low in the sky and hidden by clouds. When the sun goes down, the temperature immediately drops 10 degrees. No one at Terra Firma has been sorry for wearing longjohns this week, although I noticed a few chilly souls who looked like they were sorry they hadn’t.
November 2016 was the warmest on record, setting new records all over the U.S. More high temperature records were set than in any other recorded November, meaning that it wasn’t just ridiculously warm in a few places. It was a 50 state event.
It was certainly the warmest November I remember on the farm. We always plant extra for the winter because normally crops grow slow, mature slow, and don’t yield as much as they do in warmer months. But the warm weather lately has meant we’ve had too much to harvest. Which is a problem when the days are short and the nights are long. There’s only so much you can get done in an eight hour day.
Last night it was 32 degrees at 8 pm and stayed that temperature all night in our vegetable fields. That’s colder than we keep our coolers. And even though it will warm up a bit later in the week with the arrival of the first of several storms, this spell of Longjohns weather and very short days will effectively shut our crops down; stop their growth. And that’s good.
So why do we look forward to Longjohn season? It’s almost time for our winter vacation. We need the vegetables to take a break, too, or we can’t.