The 2015 harvest season has come to a close already. It started early on April 24th with our first pick of the season and ended on July 31st with the last load of Goldline peaches delivered to cold storage. Prices were consistently good this year which will help cover the expense of putting in two new wells. The drought here in California is in its fourth year and Tulare County, where we live, has been hit the hardest. Thankfully prices were consistently good this season which will help cover the cost of putting in two new wells.
Mike planned ahead and got on the 6 to 9 month waiting list for drilling in June, 2014. One well was drilled in November and the other in February. (Cool, Clean Water!) The well in November was drilled as an insurance policy in case the drought continued. The one in February was out of necessity because one existing well went dry.
The pump for Well #1 did not arrive until May, however. By that time, two of our three existing wells had gone dry and the third was on its last trickle of water. This required Mike to be irrigating our 65 acres of fruit trees 24/7 for a couple months. You can liken this to having a newborn baby. He was up every 3 to 4 hours day and night watering the trees during those two months. A sleep-deprived 62 year-old farmer is not a pretty picture. Mike had to cancel his local fruit deliveries because he knew he was not safe behind the wheel. He also had to delegate tractor work and repairs to others, which was an added expense.
Well #2 requires work by the electric company which is another major expense. We are considering using a propane system instead of electricity. In the meantime, we have the one producing pump to irrigate all of our farm. Even though the harvesting is done, the trees begin preparing for next year’s crop shortly after they are harvested. Healthy trees require sufficient water to set a good crop, so Mike will be giving them another good irrigating this month. Hopefully we will get much-needed rain soon. Please join us in praying for a wet fall and plenty of snow in the mountains this winter. Here is something to help you visualize what we need.
Those who have been following us through the year know that water, or the lack there of, has been the major topic of 2014. The drought here in California and the southwestern states has made headlines across the nation. The recent rains and flooding have also made the news. Thankfully we have not seen flooding in our area and even more wonderful is the sight of snow on the Sierra Nevada Mountains near our farm.
As 2014 comes to a close, seeing the snow brings us hope for 2015. We know we need many more storms to even make a dent in the drought, but we are hopeful that the snow is just the beginning of a wet winter and spring. We are glad we were able to drill a new well and, as silly as it sounds, we hope we won’t have to use it next year. The unusually warm winter last year that brought an early bloom to our fruit trees may be repeated. Perhaps this is the new normal. We had a good growing season and our U-pick business tripled this year. Our farm stay also saw an increase in guests. All of this means we will be farming for another year.
We end this final post of the year with this picture postcard view from our house.
May your New Year be filled with peace, love, and hope.
Mike & Nori Naylor
In case you hadn’t heard, California is experiencing extreme drought conditions. Our three wells made it through the summer, but we cannot depend upon a wet winter to replenish the groundwater, so, we are drilling a new well now. We will go down about 400 feet to ensure we reach the water table and then some. The San Joaquin Valley water table is like a bowl with cracks in it, so drilling does not guarantee water in some areas. We know of one farmer who tried four locations and came up dry. Farmers to the south and east of us have hit salt water from the ancient seabed that once covered this area. We are fortunate to be situated in a spot where the water table is still relatively accessible and has clean water. The increased pumping of water from the aquifer is having negative consequences on the land as well. So, no matter where you live, please don’t take having fresh, clean water for granted and practice water conservation because we don’t know what next year may bring much less tomorrow.
Once the area around the well dries, they will make a concrete base for the pump and then the pump will be installed. This will take around a month to complete. Photos will be added. Come back to see the progress.
If you have been reading my blog, you are aware how challenging farming can be. Weather, drought, labor shortages, are a few of the difficulties we face as farmers. When you add health issues to that, life can be almost overwhelming at times. I (Nori) have been experiencing several physical ailments during the summer which have made it hard to keep up with blogging. I tried to post a few photos, but was not able to write anything since May. I am feeling some better now and hope to get back to writing more often.
Believe it or not, our harvest season is now officially over. It started early this year on May 1st which made it seem like we were playing catch-up all season. The drought made it necessary for Mike to irrigate more days because the flow from the pumps was low, so it took longer. It also made it necessary for him to get up every three hours during the night to check the water so as not to waste any. Kind of like nursing a baby, I told him. This made for a seemingly much longer summer.
Just as the season was ending, our precious dog, Penney, came down with Valley Fever. Mike and Penney are very close, so this is really tough on him. She is also doing some better, but needs medication 2Xs a day for up to a year to recover. Didn’t know dogs could get Valley Fever. She is 10 years old and this has slowed her down quite a bit.
We have about 20 acres of fallow ground that we had planned to plant with more fruit trees this year. That had to be put on hold due to the drought. Young trees require more water to get a good start. We found that berries need a lot of water as well. They also don’t do well in 100 plus degree weather. Despite all of that, we had a good harvest season and will be back at it again next year. We are hoping for lots of rain this fall and lots of snow on the mountains this winter to end the drought. Otherwise, we’ll start next year by putting in a new well.