The floodwaters finally crested here late Monday, somewhere around 5 or 6 feet above flood stage... which means the river rose around 10 feet from it's pre-Irene level. That's a lot of water for a river that big. We lost a good portion of a number of things, but only a few plantings entirely. A lot of recently seeded crops--lettuces, arugula, etc--have been drowned or washed away, but at least we didn't have greenhouse and transplanting costs invested in them. By Tuesday morning I was able to walk out to the fields in regular knee-high boots as long as I was gentle, and on Wednesday we could get out with vehicles. It took most of the week for the worst of the ponding to soak out, during which time the clover mix in those spots surely died... unfortunate since those low compacted spots are where we most need the clovers' aggressive root system to open up that compaction. We made it to market with a reasonable harvest this weekend, as the affected crops were not yet ready for harvest. We'll see how the fall plays out.
As things settled down, we began to learn more of the damage on other farms. Many growers in the Schoharie Valley are all but wiped out, as the waters overflowed dams and inundated the valley. Nearer to home, neighbors Brian and Justine Denison in Schaghticoke had a rushing torrent destroy their field, taking not only much of their crops but a good portion of the soil, too. Over in Vermont, the folks at Evening Song Farm saw the flood recede to leave a river rerouted directly through their fields, with rocks and debris where the beds of veggies had been. Aside from such sensational examples, it can be pretty much assumed that anyone farming the fertile bottomlands pretty much lost all or a portion of their crop last weekend.
We're not going anywhere, but it certainly make you reconsider the sanity of growing on river bottoms. Yes, it's some of the most fertile ground in the northeast, but with so much at stake, maybe it DOES make more sense to just pump water and dump fertility onto higher ground and sandier soils. Hard not to wonder.
In other news, we finally fixed our flail mower, whose roller bearings had blown. The parts people sent us the wrong part, then took a while to get the right one out. I got it buttoned back up, did about an hour of MUCH needed mowing, and then the 2750 blew a steel fuel injection line, drizzling diesel everywhere and thwarting me. Out came the rain and washed the spider out. Now the first tentacles of tropical storm Lee are snaking up, giving us 1.4" last night and forecasted heavy rain for the next several days. Like the little spider, we're optimistic: The worst of last night's rains looks to have pushed up the St. Lawrence to the north of us. Hopefully the bulk of the storm does like-wise.
In the meantime, we're grateful to have so much of our crops spared by Irene. We did a tomato tasting in Glens Falls last weekend with TWELVE kinds of tomatoes, to rave reviews. Eggplants and peppers are producing like mad; the tomatoes are remarkably healthy, all things considered; we've got arugula and mesclun and lots of other crops coming out our ears. What's left of fall cabbages and kales look good, and the broccoli and cauliflower that didn't get Irene'd are bigger every time I glance over. The flats didn't need that rain last night, but our oats-and-peas and rye-and-vetch up top loved it, as their roots hadn't yet found moisture below the sandy upper fields. Rain isn't a great follow up to flooding, but things are on the upswing here at Quincy Farm.