Thursday, July 12, 2007

6 Feet and Rising

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A beautiful day today but not so beautiful yesterday or even this morning. The rains have been falling for several days and last night around 4 PM the skies opened. At a little after 5 PM I put a water glass on the outside railing and at 6 PM, some 50 minutes later, the glass had well over 1.5" in it. Now understand me, this is no expert metering device but it helped confirm the +6" of water in all the 5 gallon watering buckets this morning.

I've had a bad time in my life with water. There's either been too much or too little. When we moved to Vermont in '52 my dad forgot to tell us there was no running water at the house. That took him 3 years to remedy. Once in Shelburne I came home from work and opened the cellar door to find a swimming pool lapping at the top step. The hot water heater had sprung a very big leak. Then back in the early 80's I was asked to help with a FEMA family relief program after several counties were ravaged by a flood. Since then when it rains heavily, I wake up and listen for the phone to ring with someone asking for help. The phone didn't ring last night, but I still layed there thinking it would. Conditioning is an interesting thing.

By daybreak I could wait no longer and I got in the truck with a fresh coffee and headed for our property to check things out. Karl the wonder dog does not like rain and he buried himself in the quilts on the couch and wished me farewell.

I had left the tractor parked on high ground but "high" can quickly become "low" in terms of floods. It was a 100% humid and foggy morning and the rivers along the way already looked as if they were receding. There was instant relief when I reached the property. The Winooski River had not breached any of the banks and the tractor and implements stood tall on the high ground. I drove down to the front corner near the river and looked both ways. The water had risen more than 8 feet but it appeared to be leveling off. I don't know when the rain stopped but typically the water rises for some time after the rains cease and then the flow catches up with itself and recedes.

The grass squished as I walked along and it was clear that we were now a week away before we could work the land again. The 24-50'X12' plots I had repeatedly rototilled looked very clean and neat and the new grass looked more like uncut lawn that the hayfield it was a couple months ago. Progress is slow and interruptions such as this rain storm will delay our planting a bit.

I returned home and prepared for a trip up north. I expected to see places where the storm's influence had messed things up and I was not disappointed. Farming is difficult work and the best of days are often followed by troublesome times.

During the next few days I'll be installing the deer fence around the perimeter. I bought a gas operated earth auger and will use the pressure treated 4" X 4" X10 ' s. I need a gate by the river and another one half way up the river side; then there are the double wide 12 foot gates on Route 2. I have offers to help with the installation so for a few bucks and a lot of sweat, I can get the fence up and then monitor the land for a couple weeks for deer and bear infiltration before the planting begins.

It feels like I have been working on this land forever. Today in the mail was the first tax announcement. The Town Clerk called yesterday to report that someone had forgotten to send our bill out so we had two weeks to appeal the decision of the appraisers. This is something to keep in mind when you buy a piece of land for a business. We paid $49,900 for the land, cleaned up a major amount of brush and dead trees and added a $4600 entrance road. The appraisers listed it at $32,000. Without additional information, I don't know how this figure was arrived at. I'll catch up with one of the clerks later this week but I think the decision is fine where it stands.

If you are en route to the Groton State Forest or want to stop by at Vermont Flower Farm, take a quick look at our property and you'll begin to visualize the new gardens. They will be special. If you get to Peacham Pond Road, you'll notice that the hostas are glorious with all the rain and the hundreds upon hundreds of daylilies are bursting open in abundant color. Liliums, especially the martagons, Asiatics, and LA hybrids are in bloom in the gardens and in the pots and they will catch your attention. If they don't a few short Oriental lilies probably will. And if you want to see a neat plant, look at the cimicifugas, renamed actea. We have Atropurpurea, Pink Spike, Hillside Black Beauty and a couple more. I'm tired and am blanking on the names but the beautiful foliage remains clear in my mind. Once you see them, you'll want to give them a try. Need other recommendations? Give Gail a call or send her an email She loves to garden and she likes helping other gardeners too!

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where a large willow, now prostrate, floats limbs and leaves in Fr. Lively's pond waiting for me to fire up the chain saw and clean up the mess. But that will have to wait for another day.....

George Africa

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