The atmospheric firehose that has been pointed at California for a month has finally been turned off. We had a sunny day without rain yesterday for the first time in weeks.
Here at Terra Firma and in many places in our state, we have gotten more than our total annual average rainfall now. Our local reservoir and source of irrigation water, Lake Berryessa, has added 200,000 acre feet of water since New Years: 54 billion gallons. In simpler terms, all the water that was used last growing season has now been replaced and the lake is at the same level it was last winter — 70% full.
Unlike some other areas, we did not experience actual destructive flooding here. That would occur if the fields were covered with a foot or more of water or if flood waters actually flowed across fields carrying away soil and plants, as you’ve probably seen in some recent photos. Some low spots on the farm are full of water, but most of our fields were able to absorb or drain off the rain. The heaviest showers thankfully did not last for very long here.
Some of our crops are a little worse for the wear, especially due to the high winds during some of the storms. But mid-winter is our wettest time of year and we don’t grow crops that can’t handle wet weather.
Still, the relentless nature of the rain made it hard to get much done and we’ve gotten behind on all kinds of work: pruning orchards, weeding, and harvesting of things like oranges, carrots and others that can’t be picked during the rain for various reasons.
Among the other tasks on our list is harvesting potatoes from a field we planted in August. We are excited about having newly dug spuds for your boxes through the late winter and spring, but we never anticipated we would be digging them so late. It’s possible that we’ll be harvesting potatoes in one field at the same time we’re planting the 2023 potatoes in another.
Winter’s not over and I don’t think the rainy season is either. We’re grateful for a nice long break in the weather, but I’m fully expected more rain in a few weeks — perhaps a lot more. And even if that doesn’t happen, we’ll still be in good shape for water for another year.