Sheldon Haynie
 
February 28, 2014 | Other stuff, Vineyards | Sheldon Haynie

Celebrating the Rains

 Drought is a very serious thing, and this past several months we have experienced the highest level  of drought, level "D4" or  "Exceptional" shown in the Dark Red, which up to last week covered 22% of the state. There are places in the Central Valley and near Paso Robles where wells are going dry, the earth is subsiding and in general it was looking like a dust bowl was coming. While we had not seen that level of problem yet in the Southern Santa Clara County, to the east of the notch in the coast which is Monterey Bay, we were starting to plan for it.

Agriculture under that dark red blotch is a multi-billion dollar industry, and employs thousands who feed a good part of the United States and supply nuts, fruits and vegetables to the rest of the world. The state of California  and Federal agencies had constructed reservoirs and aqueducts over the last 100 yrs to alleviate the effects of periodic droughts, and up until 5 yrs ago it was pretty effective. At that time there was a change in policy that diverted the much of the stored water to support the "delta smelt" a small fish living in the Sacramento River Delta.

Without rains and good snowpack up in the Sierra it was looking like a very brutal year for agriculture, the people who work in it, and the consumers of local foods. Sending relief money to the farmers and workers does not replace their land, work and pride, though it may let them buy food from others, when they "fed a nation" in the past.

John Mellencamp's song "Rain on the Scarecrow" is probably the most poignant descriptor I can point to that describes my feelings about land. My family has had agriculture in our hertiage, since my great^8 (great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great) grandfather John Haynie apparently got off the "Margett and John in Northumberland Virginia, CA 1621 and was listed as a "planter".  I've developed a link to the soil that was seemingly latent, an urge to get up at early hours and go out and husband the soil, taking pride in growing a crop, working with and in spite of nature to bring in a harvest. 

While jane and I are not solely dependent on farming for our living, we do depend on the wine grapes we grow to make Lightheart Cellars wines and we've both worked many hours to establish our estate vineyard, and recondition the vineyards we manage, bringing their yields and quality up over time. 

So its with elation that we celebrate the recent rains that starting this week on Wednesday have brought over 3 inches to us. The plot from the Santa Clara Valley Water District's Church Street Station shows the results of this past storm, bringing 1/3 of our normal rainfall in 3 days. The forecast is optimistic for the next day at least to continue to get more rains. 

With 6 inches, we can make it through the season, we may have to use caution and conserve more than usual, but we'll have a crop. If we get another 3-10 inches we'll have abundance. 

Gene Kelly ain't got nothin on us, we'll be out there dancing in the rain. 

 

 

 

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