Final Melt

The sun is breaking through at Leafhopper Farm. It feels like we’ve been held in winter’s frozen grip for almost a month now, and that was just about the experience, what with multiple dumps of snow, record breaking cold, and no redemption (unless you’re a skier). The farm managed to prevent any roof cave ins, frostbite on animals or people, and the water buckets were kept unfrozen. Lots of lessons were learned about what to do on the farm when heavy snows to come, and we’re now more prepared than ever for the unpredictability of climate change.

With all the fast melting snow inundating the landscape with water, our pond is filling up fast. We’re hoping the water line might crest at the outflow this year, marking the first time this water feature has reached capacity. I might finally get to swim in the farm pond! This slow melt will give our land a deep watering in preparation for spring. Hopefully, the extra moisture will help protect against summer drought to come. We’re still slated to have a bad fire season, even with the snow.

As mentioned in previous posts about this weather, we got the snow of a lifetime for Western Washington, and even after weeks of melting, you can see in the picture above, we’ve still got a good layer of precipitation on the ground. It will be March before all this white stuff is gone. It’s also turning into cement, making it impossible to move our electric mesh fencing, transplant young trees, or even see many of the plants in the garden nursery.

Blue skies and sun are a welcome return, but the temperatures remain cold, making it a very slow melt here on the farm. In other parts of the country, snow has also been record breaking. Mom is visiting from Tucson Arizona, where her flight was delayed 8 hours due to the first “heavy” snow in southern Arizona since 1915. L.A. got 4 inches, and even Las Vegas got a dusting. This is indeed a snowy winter across America. Hopefully not a new precedent in our weather patterns. After all, I moved out here to farm and live in a temperate rain-forest!

Our salmon bearing stream is flowing strong, and the spring melt will see flooding across the region. We’re surprised the creek is not higher by now, but the soil has been drought stricken for years, so, like the sponge it is, all that slow moisture is being sucked right up, and banked for the trees. Let’s hope some of our western hemlocks get the deep watering they’ve been hoping for. That particular species is starting to look very stressed around the farm, mostly due to the heat, and longer drought stretches of recent summers.

We will miss this snow, but getting back to soil will make spring planting happen sooner. We’ve got a lineup of cover crops, early spring greens, and those young trees to transplant out into the landscape. Our cloche did make it through the weather, and there is still a bright green carpet of yummy greens to eat through the last of winter’s lean time. Leafhopper Farm is such a resilient place, and with each year, we’re learning more and more about what’s possible in restoration, production, and stewardship.

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