Tested by Extreme Weather Events

Do you ever wonder how pioneers 100 years and more ago survived? Talk about some rugged souls! As we experienced some of the extremes over the last week I thought about this. And then I walked by a photography studio yesterday and took a picture of the display (photo above) because I thought it quite fitting.

Last week we enjoyed our first salad grown at Sabbatical Ranch! That's exciting and it was awesome having fresh garden veggies the day after temperatures had plummeted to a low of 4° here at the ranch! We're in a cold sink - a lower part of the valley where cold air flows from above. It makes for some unique microclimates that will allow us to grow things that others in the valley can't.
First Fruits
Did you know that the average food in the grocery store travels 1500 miles to get there? I don't know about you, but I don't feel fresh after 1500 miles. Produce is typically picked before it's ripe so it's firmness allows it to survive the trip better. But that's also before its nutrient content has reached its peak. Plus produce starts loosing nutrition the moment it's picked.

Fresh garden produce is more nutrient dense when harvested at peak ripeness, which is easy to do when you gather it for meals. Additionally, garden fresh produce has more beneficial microbes and enzymes that help you digest it and utilize its nutrient content, as well as boost your immune system and microbiome. You can also control what inputs go into your own garden. For example, pesticides don't just kill pests, they can also harm you and your microbiome.

These are some of the reasons we're braving the elements to develop Sabbatical Ranch.

65 MPH Wind & Rain!

Our hoop house shed and caterpillar tunnel greenhouse have stood up to 50 mph wind, but 65 mph was a bit too much. 

They were predicting four days of rain and two days of wind gusts as high as 65 mph. The first day of high winds was the last day of rain so the ground was already quite wet. I had just replaced the hoop house's 20'x30' tarp the week before after it finally ripped wide open in another high-wind event. The bungee cord fastening system generally works quite well, but with wet ground and pressure from the wind the 10" bungee stakes started ripping out of the ground. Then with fewer bungees resisting the force of the wind the remaining ones began snapping under the pressure. Fortunately I was there to reinforce it with 2' rebar stakes and additional bungees.
Hoop House Tarp Gives Up
The greenhouse was another story. The greenhouse runoff hits the ground right next to the hoops (PVC hoops slide over 3' rebar that is sunk 2' into the ground). All the rain had softened the ground, but it was fine until the 65 mph wind gusts began. Imagine a line of big mixing spoons in a giant bowl full of wet flour with sails running between all the spoon handles. Now add 65 mph wind and imagine what happens. We tried holding them up for probably an hour, but the wind just wouldn't let up. 

Then the caribiners that the cord runs through started breaking under the pressure (cord runs over the top of the greenhouse plastic between each of the hoops, holding it down and giving it the caterpillar look). With the cord loose the plastic started flapping around like a loose-skinned dog trying to shake itself dry - nonstop.

Dark rain clouds appeared to be heading our direction and I was out of ideas. Then it dawned on me that there was no way we were going to win this one. We simply pushed and pulled all the plastic to one side down to the ground and the fight was over. Then it was just a matter of securing the row cover that protects all the fresh winter veggies  that we're still looking forward to eating. 

One other problem I discovered is the PVC hoops get driven into wet ground by the wind. As that happens the interior roof gets shorter and you end up with loose cover material. I wandered around the hardware store looking for something to stabilize the hoops and found some giant washers in the electrical department. 
Hoop Stabilizers
I love how it so often gets bright and sunny after a big storm. Everything seems clean - especially the air. It's very refreshing! 

In sunny Arizona we get more days of sunshine than anywhere I've ever lived. I've lived in eight states and visited all but one state in the contiguous US. They all have their pros and cons and extreme weather events. I can't say I've seen it all, but I've seen my fair share. 

If it weren't for rain, we wouldn't appreciate sunshine as much. If it weren't for tears, we wouldn't appreciate laughter as much. If it weren't for winter, we wouldn't appreciate summer as much. If it weren't for pain, we wouldn't appreciate joy as much. If it weren't for darkness, we wouldn't appreciate light as much.
"Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, 'I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.'" (John 8:12)

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