There are things about farming one can’t control. For example, the weather. In May, when we received 14 inches of rain in one week, we stayed stoic. We did not panic… we waited to see how the garlic and the land adapted. We thought we had a chance at a half-way decent crop. The land dried out; we kept the weeds down. We knew we had already lost 50%, yet we continued to feel the glass was still half full.
Then a few days after we had harvested the scapes, we received another 4.5 inches of rain. It was critical, as this is the time that the bulbs are forming their papers. All week-long it was cool and rainy. The bulbs were literally absorbing the water like little sponges. This is when Val and I went out to pull a few bulbs and check their condition. The field was in two inches of standing water. We had to make a decision. Pull the crop now and sacrifice bulb size or leave it in and watch it rot. We elected to pull the crop, but not without a brief melt-down. We then put our big-girl pants on and proceeded with the task at hand.
Val, Zac and I started pulling garlic. Our neighbor Lynne saw that we were harvesting in the pouring rain, grabbed her wellies and came out to help. What usually takes us about five days to complete took 1.5 hours. Yet in spite of the circumstances, no one complained, no one grumbled, we simply pulled garlic.
So for the third consecutive year, we have had a compromised garlic crop. But when you love something, you do not give up on it. At one time it was one of our major crops; today it is crop of distinction that has a reduced role. The stock is expensive and without the needed financial return other crops have stepped up and taken its place in terms of yield and return. We have learned to diversify in order to succeed; to change in lieu of giving up. Garlic, the stinking rose is beloved and will always have a place of honor on our land. We continue to evolve and learn each year. Maybe, just maybe the garlic gods will hear our plea. In the meantime we will simply enjoy life and each other!
It was stressful week, yet when we brought our little heads of garlic to market, our customers were supportive and we still managed to sell out. To all our market customers: “We love you.”
“We may be soaked, but we haven’t drowned!!” –a Val…ism