Ooooh, boy. Things have been crazy around here lately! Excavation, heavy machinery, trenches and huge piles of dirt everywhere…
But, after 90-plus years, we’ve finally moved into Modern Times. Well, at least in the irrigation department. Sort of.
That’s the pond, where all our irrigation water comes from. Nothing’s changed there… just the rest of it! We’ve always watered the orchard with a system of open ditches that run down the rows of trees, which is quite lovely and picturesque when it works but a major problem when it doesn’t. Rusty pipes, gopher holes, twigs and grass blocking things up — it’s an all-day project, tending the ditches, cleaning them out and making sure the water is running where it’s supposed to. And every generation of kids to grow up here at the ranch has gotten in trouble for making a barefoot muddy mess of the ditches at least once a summer!
So, this revision has been a long time coming. A couple years back we started the grant-application process with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which funds projects like ours. The new irrigation system will be much more efficient and effective than the old one, but it’s something we probably wouldn’t have taken on without funding and resources.
Not to mention the help of our friends!
And, finally, the trenches have been filled in, the dirt raked back into place, and it’s possible to walk across the orchard at night without risking life and limb. I did enjoy getting an under-the-ground look at the different types of soil we have here, though — thick red clay in one spot, brittle yellow rock in another, rich blue-gray soil down by the creek. There’s a blog post in the making from all the many, many dirt photos I snapped!
And the ducks just love the new micro-sprinklers in the orchard; apparently that pond water is quite delicious. I will miss the old ditches, though… I’m campaigning to run them at least once a summer, for tradition’s sake. It’s nice to have things back to normal around here, and to kick back and relax (a bit) after all that work — it won’t be long ’til it’s time to harvest honey, then fruit… ah, time for a nap!