We’ve only had 1½ inches of rain so far this year; driest in my life. Mountains look pretty bare, but I haven’t heard anything official. We really don’t care if it doesn’t rain in Kingsburg as long as it snows in the Sierras to feed the Kings River water shed, but usually the two are fairly close coupled; we desperately need rain!
Buds are swelling up, getting ready to bloom, and that means your farmer’s getting ready for frost. Freezing temperatures and dry springs are also close coupled so being extra ready is prudent.
How do you get your orchards ready for frost, Uncle Vern? Well, here are the principles. During the day, the sun warms the ground. If that ground is covered with grass, it will release that warmth in the early evening, and by morning the orchard will be cold. If the ground is freshly tilled, that’s better than grass, but not as good as if the ground is clean and firm. Clean firm soil will hold its daytime warmth better, but the very best conditions we can create are clean, firm and moist.
So right now, we’re busy discing in the winter grass on the orchard floors. Then we’ll pull frost furrows and—since it doesn’t look like rain—we’ll irrigate.
The irrigation water will do three things. It gives the tree the moisture it needs to start its 2018 fruit cycle. Water firms the soil in the furrows so it will hold its warmth and finally, the moist firm furrows will channel frost water through the orchard most efficiently.
Water comes out of the well about 50 degrees, so sending that water through the orchard on a killer cold morning is the most effective thing we do to save our crops.
Remember how we spread manure, microbes, and minerals last fall? Well, that biology has been having a subterranean fiesta all winter; you can almost see the soil moving. And when you pull a disc through the orchard and open the ground up… Well, for some it’s the smell of fresh baked bread, for others it’s new mown hay but people, for me, the olfactory comfort trigger that all is well with the world is fresh turned organic earth in spring, happy!
I’m writing this the Tuesday after the Super Bowl, you’re reading it in the middle of the Winter Olympics. An observation about the former and an easy prediction about the latter:
The Eagles and the Patriots played a very exciting physical game, and the packed Minnesota stadium thundered with energy (opposing fans seated side by side). From pregame honoring of our veterans, Pink nailing the national anthem through acceptance speeches, we saw Americans, and I have and will maintain that this Super Bowl example of America is 100x more accurate than the nightly news example.
By now, you’ve experienced the Opening Ceremony and are in the midst of awe at the speed, grace, and agility of the athletes, whether Jamaican bob sledders or Norwegian down hillers. Stories of common people from tiny villages and teeming metropolis achieving exceptional accomplishments. I will be marveling and choked up at the same time and this too is our world.
Oh yes, our country and our world have plenty of shameful, scary, awful events that need to be confronted, and confront and right them we must; it’s difficult. But we’ll get them righted so much quicker from the united vantage of the Olympics and the Super Bowl. The peddlers of fear and division would starve if we’d quit buying.