It Doesn’t Rain, it Pours!

So we have finally had some decent rain and as often is the case, it doesn’t rain, it pours! Yesterday evening a nasty storm brewed up and came over the hill from the south west with an intensity that was almost terrifying at times. We had 20 mm in a very short space of time, with a bit of hail and lots of wind. The initial downpour was followed by 8 mm of soaking rain. This is our biggest rainfall event since the 1st of July. Up until yesterday we were on 195 mm for the season to date. That’s from 1st July until the 2nd February! The dam is still practically empty, but I have saved the last bit of water in the dam for establishing my autumn crops and greenfeed. I haven’t irrigated since the beginning of January, but we had a bit of rain that kept the pastures going to a certain extent.

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The storm approaching.

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The Umzintlava River outside Kokstad on the 3rd Feb 2016. I wish I could share the smell too. It is a trickle of raw sewage. The greenies want to poison my beloved trout, when they have far bigger problems to sort out.

As is often the case, today was a bitter sweet day for me. Yes we had good rain and I can finally do some more planting as I will have some water to irrigate, but the eye of the storm was unfortunately right on top of my newly planted cabbages, spinach, and turnips! All the crops cabbages got thrashed by hail and some plants got literally washed out the ground. The field looks terrible today but I think they will recover to a large extent. The spinach looks the worst but is probably going to be the best off in the long term. Another tragedy is the fertilzer I had just applied only half an hour before the rain. Thats probably as good as gone, into my neighbours dam. The part of the farm where I planted my cabbages had 60 mm in half an hour or so with a lot of fine hail. The topsoil that I lost was absolutely heartbreaking! I have put a lot of effort into building up the soil fertility of er the years using no-till planting practices. We have worked the land up for the first time in several years to chase a quick buck by planting cash crops, and it’s tragic to see that loss.

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That's what my cabbages used to look like. That was taken a week before the storm. They are very finicky things to plant, but it's very rewarding seeing their neat rows and perfect spacing once you are done.
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My 2 week old cabbages.
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The more mature cabbages look like they withstood the storm a bit better.
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The rows of Spinach are barely visible from being smashed into the ground.
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My newly planted spinach after the storm.
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The stream off the mountain is flowing well again and so I will be able to plant some more turnips up at the top farm.

For now I will be thankful for the rain however it comes, as without the water we can’t do anything. I heard of a farmer in the Escourt area who had 150 mm of rain in an hour or so, and his empty dam filled up during the storm, and then burst, taking his neighbours dam with it! Now that’s bitter sweet for you. This is part of the “joys of farming” and part of the great learning curve of life.

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2 Comments

  1. Rex those cabbages looks like they are going to recover. The spinach looks worse, hopefully they will stand up and realise they must appreciate the rains in such dry times:)

    Like

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