Thursday, October 17, 2013

One Twelfth of Me

                It is now mid-October and most of the growing season is behind us. As of recently, each year has provided if not one EXTREMELY out of the ordinary weather event, multiple events not normal for the region. So, how has the 2013 season been thus far?
                To begin, the title to this entry is an awful one, and the reader is sure to figure that out eventually. Nonetheless, it has been put out there for what it is and the explanation is to follow…
                In this entry, I will relay how the weather affected our region throughout the 2013 season thus far. As a farmer who has witnessed many EXTREMELY out of the ordinary weather situations over the past decade or so, I have learned that some drastic situation awaits around every corner, so to speak, and when it will strike is more a guess, actually, an accurate assumption at this point, than anything else. In fact by writing about this I have surely jinxed the situation… that is, if a jinx can be added posthumously, but I digress.
                Nonetheless, as I approach a given weather situation in any given year in our current time period, I have been quite accurate to predict a maelstrom of some sort or other. If it is a beautiful sunny day, as the day was today, when asked about the lack of severe weather, I can only reply, “Wait for it…”
                (The voice in my head for the “Wait for it…” part of this entry comes from Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” in the crucifixion sketch. “Crucifixion party!... Wait for it…”)
                I must remind myself to stay focused on the weather and not the other myriad of assaults on the farm, starting with the mouse that ate most of the seeds started in the “grow” greenhouse… Okay, I will stop there and not mention the other assaults such as the first groundhog attack on Field 9…
                Back to topic! The year started out very cool for our region, as it does every so often…  which is a very weak term. “Every so often”. What does that actually mean? Talk about an ambiguous statement. But I digress.To skip past that cliché, over the decade plus that I have been keeping track of the weather on the farm it has happened twice. With such a short span of time to judge by, a 20% rating seems unjustified. Nonetheless, it means nothing to this article other than that this particular spring, that is, the spring of 2013, was rather cool for the region. In the past we have suffered such cataclysmic weather events in the spring such as… Actually, the spring has not been much of an issue. I shall move on. And as for those cataclysmic weather events… Wait for it!
                The summer was somewhat mild as well. The odd thing was that occasional rain fell throughout most of that season. NOW THAT WAS ODD! That cannot be deemed cataclysmic, that was actually quite beneficial. There has not been a year as ideal growing-wise, other than the cooler temperatures, than this current one up until mid-August. Only briefly did we, collectively, have to pause and say, “By the dog, but it is HOT!!!” And those few days of high heat and humidity are actually to be expected in our region at that time of year. In many ways, we got off easy this summer!... Wait for it!
                By mid-August, the precipitation had stopped… dead. As a mid-Maryland farmer, I am used to that. It is expected. For the “drought” to appear so late is quite odd. Nonetheless, we experienced over a month of VERY little precipitation. And yet the CRAZY high heat of some of the past years did not appear. By that part of the year, the question had definitely arisen in my mind. What is going on here? Where is the insane weather events that have tormented the farm over the past few years?
                I stopped short of actually asking that question. I am quite aware of the advice, “be careful of what you ask for…” So, the year progressed without any cataclysmic weather event, and as mentioned above, I will not get into, say, how zebra caterpillars, harlequin stink bugs and Mexican bean beetles descended upon the farm in plague-like fashion. No, I will not describe here how entire crops, such as turnips, rutabagas, pac choi, broccoli, cabbage, yellow, green and purple beans and radishes were completely devoured by an onslaught easily a hundred times more intense than any other year experienced. That is not the point of this entry. This entry is about the weather, that is cataclysmic weather events, and through August and September, no such cataclysmic weather event arose… Wait for it!
                Lori, who started working with me at the farm, is from Olean, New York. Olean is south of Buffalo and is in the far western portion of New York state. While she has a lot of experience working for an organic farm in that region, she has learned quite a bit about growing using the same methods in our region, the mid-Atlantic. Bugs, pests are the first “new” entries to her organic vocabulary, so to speak. They have bugs, pests also in the western New York region, only nothing remotely equivalent to the constant onslaught in the mid-Atlantic, but again, the focus of this entry is cataclysmic weather events… Wait for it!
                Lori seems to take things in stride, at least the strange words that constantly pour forth from my mouth, and she did not blink when I stated that those of us in the mid-Atlantic actually HOPE for a hurricane, or at least a tropical storm to develop in the gulf of Mexico and make its way northward to eventually drop the remnants of the storm on our extremely parched crops late in the season. This year, no such storm developed… which can actually be a good thing, since the size of such storms has been increasing over the years. Instead of two or three inches of rain, we have received at least twice that amount, which is definitely more rain than we could use. But, as I mentioned, this year no tropical storms headed our way at least into October… Wait for it!
                Another aspect of mid-Maryland weather with which Lori was not familiar was the nor’easter. Yes, the nor’easter, the storm that gets pinned over the region turning moderate rain and snow storms into colossal dumpings of precipitation. Last week, the weather forecast predicted the first rain in quite some time to fall Thursday through Saturday. The same forecast called for about one and a half inches of rain over two days. AND THEN IT HAPPENED! That moderate storm did indeed get pinned in the area in the form of a nor’easter and proceeded to drop a deluge of water on the area. On the farm, seven and a quarter inches fell. SEVEN AND A QUARTER INCHES!!! Now that is what I call a cataclysmic weather event!
                In years past, a severe rain storm would be as much as three inches of rain. Now, three inches of rain seems like a drizzle. This past rain of seven and a quarter inches has become almost expected… well, at least I expected it… and waited for it. But it has struck me that by writing out “seven and a quarter inches” the reality of the situation has not been accurately relayed. So, in my strange manner of thinking, a new way to relay just how much rain that is has been devised. It is… one twelfth of me. Actually, it is over one twelfth of me. Of course as soon as I thought about that I realized that the assumption that the reader would be aware of my height would cause problems. After all, I could be four feet tall, and the rain would have been four inches. Or I could be a giant, and not what I actually am, six feet tall. Nonetheless, I warned the reader that it was a terrible title…
                Nonetheless, 2013 is yet another year to experience a cataclysmic weather event. For sure, so far, through over three quarters of the year, we have only been assaulted by a rather “mild” cataclysmic weather event. And as the climate continues to change… rapidly, 2013 has been a rather tame one for us here in the mid-Maryland, mid-Atlantic region. I hope I did not just jinx the rest of the year… Wait for it…

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