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Homesteading: Drought

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Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

February 22, 2009
2:29 PM

Post #6173073

We've had a dry, dry winter here, only 2 6-inch snows so far. I read in the paper yesterday where CA farmers are going to have their surface water cut off in March for at least a couple of weeks due to drought conditions... but the cities aren't going to institute drought measures until this summer.

???????

When did daily showers and lawns become more important than food? CA is the country's biggest agricultural producer--our food comes from there--and there's something deeply whacked about cutting off farmers while maintaining the flow to cities.

Count on food prices rising again... think on it while you're in the shower.
Grumble...
Jay
gardenza
Anza, CA
(Zone 8b)

February 22, 2009
3:21 PM

Post #6173251

There are so many things 'whacked' about California right now! Our taxes where just raised in so many ways that we are now paying 14% more a year, or about $1500 more on average. It will cost almost double to register our cars now, we pay almost 9% sales tax, and lose some of the child tax breaks. Basically, any 'stimulus' from the federal government just got absorbed. There are so many people bailing out of here that I'm sure revenues are still going to plummet.

On the plus side-we won't need so much water in the cities, maybe the farmers will be allowed to keep some!

I'm grateful we are on well water here. There have been several efforts over the last 30 years or so to run a pipe into our water reservoir to 'bring us water' which anybody with sense knew would really just be used to suck us dry. The valley can't be built up much because of the Indian Res that fills a large part of it, and the lack of employment opportunities, and the fact that we are 40 miles from a 'real town'. So we are an island here, but they've still got that money pipeline into our incomes, and can suck us dry that way.

Double Grumble

Julia

Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

February 22, 2009
3:46 PM

Post #6173351

There are certain advantages to living in economically depressed towns...
like it doesn't change much when the rest of the country goes down the tubes. Our unemployment rate here hasn't risen much 'cause there're no jobs to start with. Unless you're a lawyer or a politician.

All those folks leaving CA are probably going to end up out here, grousing about lack of services and raising taxes, and sucking up water for 'pretty'...

Grumble, grouse... (LOL)
Jay
gardenza
Anza, CA
(Zone 8b)

February 23, 2009
8:53 PM

Post #6179514

Yup, you can take Californians out of the state, but you can't take the mental state out of Californians!

Well, we can always hope common sense will prevail, and if that doesn't work maybe a good scare will!

Julia
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

February 24, 2009
3:58 PM

Post #6183059

Good heavens... we awoke to 50* yesterday! Went up into the low 70's... freaky for here this time of year. Looks like it's going to be sunny and warm for a week, anyways. Sheesh. Cactus are gonna start growing amidst the pine trees.

Got an email from a friend of mine on the west coast... they've had buckets and buckets of rain. sigh. She's declaring their drought over... though one season of rain rarely ends a real drought. That's something many people don't understand. At least here in NM, our droughts can last for a decade or more, and one good wet year doesn't even begin to recharge the water table or reservoirs. It's a sort of sucker punch... we start thinking we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, build up the herds, plant more fields, and POW! it's really the train.

I think I need to learn more about the dust bowl years around here. I did see a picture once of one of those famous dust clouds... scary. A wall of black cloud as high as the top of the sky descending on a small village in northeastern NM. Really looked solid, I could definitely see where it would block the sun at noon and make it dark as midnight.
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

March 5, 2009
2:49 PM

Post #6224493

Still no rain here. =0( The weatherservice was saying a 30% chance this weekend, but I checked this am and that's... dried up (couldn't resist that one LOL) Even though 30% usually doesn't pan out around here, I got a little excited and bought some oats to broadcast on the part of the pasture we've mowed down. It's been windy, windy, windy and I was wondering how I was going to get the seed to go where I wanted it... maybe stand 25' upwind? but now it's a moot question. [[sigh]] No wetness predicted for at least a week.

Woke this am to 35*... it sure warmed up fast here. We've been up into the 70's, pretty warm for this time of year. I need to get my peas in, but the wind makes it so miserable and hard to get the row covers over. Man, I hate the wind in the spring.

All my tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, lettuce came up and are thriving. I've got to start some more veggies... right now I can't remember what. And maybe some hollyhocks. =0) Me AND the gophers love those. LOL

Things have gotten so slow on this board, I can only think that folks are getting busy in their gardens. Hooray! for spring.
Jay

taynors

taynors
Urbana, OH
(Zone 5b)

March 8, 2009
6:10 PM

Post #6238141

Im from CA and that is one reason why i left
to expensive. :(
would love to live there again , For the gardening reasons. but just can't .
Its had a drought since i was a kid LOL but i guess this year is worse ?
i agree . i bet the golf courses don't have a regulate the water ? they are the biggest users of water too.
My mom (still in CA ) told me yesterday that unemployment is at 10% yikes !
I feel for you guys who don't get alot of water . I used to also live in Az , :) I know the pain .
I am going to try my hand at cold frames this winter. I have read an article in Mother Earth News about it . Some greens and some carrots i might try first.
sue
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

March 8, 2009
6:30 PM

Post #6238243

I've got my coldframe up and my tomato seedlings are sunning in it now. =0) I'll bring them in late this afternoon and put them back under lights. I started beets in flats and soon I'm going to try putting them in the dirt there. Maybe too cold yet, but we'll see. Let us know how your venture comes along...

A friend in N. CA told me they've gotten quite a bit of rain recently; I'm sure that's a huge relief for those folks. I still think the cities should stop lawn watering before they cut the farmers off. Empty the pools, spas, and outdoor fountains. Shower every other day. Yah-dah-yah-day-yah-dah. You've lived in AZ, you know the drill. LOL

Jay
AZgrammie
North of Heber, AZ
(Zone 6b)

March 8, 2009
7:37 PM

Post #6238500

Jayryunen, I'm in northern AZ and it sounds like our climate is very similar to yours. I keep hearing (from down in Phx) that due to "terrific snowpack" the drought may be over, and I say "What snowpack?" We have had nearly NO snow just a couple of snowfalls that enabled the ski resorts to open briefly. Last year we had a 2' snowfall, plus lesser snowfalls during the winter. A couple of years ago, we had a 4' snowfall once. I remember about 10 years ago, before I moved up here from the Valley, a friend who had a laptop and lived up here emailed me "The good news is that we have 5 feet of snow and I have lots of firewood. The bad news is that my firewood is under 5 feet of snow!" This year, nearly nada, and like you said, the February temps were springlike. (I loved it, but dang, we sure need precip.) When we bought this property in 1988, there was so much snow at the highway turnoff that my DH & I turned around and went back to Payson; and when we did get clear out here, the dirt roads were flooded (and lots of sticky mud). When I was in high school, I remember that they had to airlifft bales of hay to cattle because of the snow. So what is this, global warming or what?

Gotta go, I'm going out to plant potatoes now. I'd try the beets & turnips, but it is too windy for me and the juniper pollen is blowing around like crazy. Kachoo!
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

March 8, 2009
7:57 PM

Post #6238563

Yep, you sound a lot like here. I remember that big snow a couple years back... here it was 3' and brought down some buildings. And I remember being in high school in Abq, and the big alfalfa airlift... thousands of head of sheep and cattle stranded in high snow in the middle of the big nowhere.

There used to be a lot more snow in Abq. Now there's nada every year. The first year it rained in Feb. I thought to myself "Time to move" I'd hoped Vegas was far enough north to keep winter, but I don't know... that nice little bit of wet weather didn't last yesterday, everything dried out by noon. =o( What a tease!

Juniper season is just around the corner here.
Jay

taynors

taynors
Urbana, OH
(Zone 5b)

March 8, 2009
8:32 PM

Post #6238768

My parents are in N.Cal and my dad took out his lawn and put in drought resistant and native plants 3 yrs ago. He should be ok this year. He also is doing rain barrels.
Yes they did get alot of rain considering then normal .
To bad more people don't do that with rain barrels. ?
Crazy how they cut off the farmers first , ?
you guys are lucky , your planting already . I still have time :(
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

March 8, 2009
8:52 PM

Post #6238859

What we lack in water we make up for in sun! LOL So if we do season extension stuff, we can start to get our hands dirty early. Though my planting is in flats (mostly, except what overwintered) and most won't go out til Apr. 15. But I keep trying.

Yey! xeriscaping is the way to go. High five to your dad!
Jay

taynors

taynors
Urbana, OH
(Zone 5b)

March 8, 2009
10:45 PM

Post #6239390

I will tell him that LOL. Yeah he is a hippie from San Fran . He was composting when composting was uncool LOL
well i hate to say this but
we have severe strong downpours of rains right now. my rain barrels are flying through that air ( no water in them yet , they keep blowing away ) . :( i sure hope my little GH is ok .
winds up to 57 ! uhg .
welcome to OHio LOL
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

March 9, 2009
1:24 AM

Post #6240073

I have spent the day researching how to anchor and tie down my new high tunnel... we can get 70-80 mph winds here from time to time. Took out my run-in stalls, lofted the 12 x 24 heavy guage metal roof and frame 75' and the walls tumbled down like a house of cards! Sure don't want to see my high tunnel flying over the valley.

Hope your GH makes it undamaged! Scary. =o( I always keep a little water in my rain barrels, even if I have to use the hose, for just that reason. Hard to gather rain when the dang barrel is rolling around on the other side of the property! LOL

Dinner...
Jay
garden_mermaid
San Francisco Bay Ar, CA
(Zone 9b)

March 9, 2009
1:56 AM

Post #6240236

DH and I are native to California, as are at least part of our families. This state has had cyclical droughts for as long as we and our parents and grandparents can remember. This big difference now is the exponential expansion in population and some of the environmentally unfriendly water policies/infrastructure.

I just read that the salmon season may not open for the second year running. The California salmon and trout population is endangered at this point due to too much water diversion for agriculture. Some of the water restrictions to the central valley irrigation systems is to try to save the fish populations. There is a lot of brouhaha from the state farm bureau about "environmental extremists" winning the right to keep a minimum flow into the rivers, and estuaries. I doubt the unemployed fisherman feel that they are environmental extremists. It is interesting that with all the fuss and finger pointing, that no one has asked if we should really be growing water hungry crops in the desert. Some food crops require less water than others. One would hope that the naturally drier regions would start converting to crops that require less water, switch to more efficient irrigation systems, make more of an effort to capture the rainwater that does fall and recycle their existing water supply.

The Salinas Valley is one of our richest crop growing areas. They were also left off of the list of water recipients when the Federal water projects were built. Ground water pumping for agriculture was causing seawater intrusion from Monterey Bay. In 1975, the Salinas Valley/Monterey area put together a solution that cleans and recycles the municipal waste water for agricultural use and halted the seawater intrusion.
If you would like to read about the Monterey County waste recycling project, this link will take you to a write up of the study.
http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11241&page=187

We need smaller, regional water capture and use plans rather than a hand full of multi billion dollar projects that wreak havoc on the environment and displace people from their land. Los Angeles county relied on a system of cisterns before the CA aquaduct was installed. They let their monsoon water run down the arroyos and out to sea, then want to build a football stadium wide peripheral canal to "convey" the waters of the Sacramento and other nearby rivers to the south. It seems to me that we could spend our infrastructure dollars more wisely, and provide jobs in more areas, if smaller regional water projects were used.

If you get a chance to see "Flow, the film", I highly recomment it. This documentary shows how regional smaller scale water projects have been very successful around the world. http://www.flowthefilm.com/

OK, I'm off my soapbox now. ^-^

taynors

taynors
Urbana, OH
(Zone 5b)

March 9, 2009
12:08 PM

Post #6241457

Gh didnt make it :(
ripped the frame apart.
I know what i did wrong. No A frame at the ends for stability duh. I was experimenting with a new design. LOL
thanks for the info Garden. I agree on the population explosion. I left when it began and came back 4 yrs later and wow ! couldn't believe how much it has grown in that short time and still climbing. yikes. Then came the .com catastrophe . Hurt alot of people.
well to muddy and wet to fix the GH .
will start seeds today :)
garden_mermaid
San Francisco Bay Ar, CA
(Zone 9b)

March 9, 2009
3:26 PM

Post #6242272

Your greenhouse will come along in time. We learn alot from experiments.
Bless the water that makes the mud.
:)
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

March 9, 2009
3:53 PM

Post #6242392

I'm just curious, GM, what proportion of the river water is going to the cities? I'm not bewildered by maintaining minimum flow in the river for the salmon, I'm bewildered that farmer's are being cut off months before cities are instituting drought measures... Why are the farmer's being cut off to maintain that flow and not the cities?

I agree that growing crops in the desert is absurd... AZ's climate has changed considerably from when I was a kid there. It used to be dry, now the humidity around Phoenix is awful. My dad made a living as a young man picking lettuce around Yuma, AZ. Nutz.

But to steal water and make a productive valley a desert is criminal... as happened in the Owens Valley to sate the growing water demand for LA.

garden_mermaid
San Francisco Bay Ar, CA
(Zone 9b)

March 9, 2009
9:21 PM

Post #6243924

The cities have more voting clout. The southern half of the state has more population.
Every drought cycle we in the north are letting our landscaping die, waiting until the last moment to flush, taking bucket baths etc and then find many folks down south hosing off their driveways (instead of using a broom) and saying "drought, what drought? We have plenty of water. You folks up north should have done a better job planning and purchased more water."

This area was on voluntary water rationing last year. My friends down south are conserving because they are conscientious, but their neighbors think they are not affected.

I do realize that it is not such a black and white issue. I fully agree that the cities should be required to cut back to save water for agriculture and fishing etc. I think folks who move to desert environments should plan on xeriscaping and other desert types of landscaping suitable to the environment. Golf courses are not desert landscaping!
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

March 9, 2009
9:46 PM

Post #6244022

I love that... purchased more water. (snort) The dirty dealing that went into "buying" that water for LA included murder. Oh, maybe it was a contract killing? LOL

I've been in the Bay area just recently (Feb), and I did see that many public green areas were looking decidedly parched, but I didn't notice much of that in private yards, so I think you may be more the exception than the rule. The fact that it is still voluntary, while the farmers being cut-off is not... well, a vote won't feed a family. I've stayed in the hotels... no low flow toilets, no low-flow shower heads, no requests to please conserve water, no possibility that towels not be washed every day... those farmers are going to be pumping more water, so the next time you read about sea water intrusion being caused by farmers, remember how that came about.

You like to research things... how much of CA's $$$ economy is agricultural? What percentage of the country's food does it still manage to supply? Is it still this country's #1 agricultural state?

I also think it's a real shame that so many mature orchards have been cut down for vineyards, but in the age of cheap oil an American pear couldn't compete price wise with one from South America. We're willing to pay a lot for a boutique wine, but the fresh fruit had better be cheap. =(

Seriously messed up priorities.
AZgrammie
North of Heber, AZ
(Zone 6b)

March 9, 2009
11:36 PM

Post #6244428

Several years back, it was proposed that people in Phoenix/ Mesa/ Scottsdale/ Tempe/ Glendale/ Peoria/ Gilbert/ Chandler (in other words, The Valley) should start rationing water. I decided that if that happened, I'd take a bar of soap to the nearest golf course and take my showers under their sprinklers.

Of course all that would do nowadays would be to get a lot of laughs! 8^D
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

March 9, 2009
11:56 PM

Post #6244501

I did read where CA was proposing a luxury tax on golfers... =0)
They keep putting in 'championship' golf courses near Abq and Santa Fe (aka Fanta Se) but I think now they're [finally] using reclaimed treated sewage water [effluent]. Our little university golf course has converted to that.

In Denver they can't retain rainwater because the downstream states kicked. So they can channel rainwater through the garden, but can't retain it from roofs and parking lots for landscaping. Saw some creative designs for running the water through the landscaping when it comes, but when it doesn't? SOL

We'd like to get our rainwater collection system set up before TX notices and makes NM stop, but the storage is so expensive. =o( Poco a poco, as they say.

"Whiskey's for drinking, water's for fighting."
garden_mermaid
San Francisco Bay Ar, CA
(Zone 9b)

March 10, 2009
1:38 AM

Post #6244967

Actually, the voluntary water rationing was very successful and EBMUD reported a larger reduction in water usage than they had requested. Many cities in the area, including Sunnyvale are using recycled grey water to irrigate the landscaping. Sunnyvale is seeking LEEDs certification for the newer municipal buildings. I'm not saying that we don't have some unaware folks up here as well, just that looks can also be deceiving when it comes to greenery.

San Francisco (the City) is subsidizing rainbarrels for homeowners and has a program to help them get the barrels hooked up. More and more homes are switching to native plants, like carpet manzanita and creeping red fescue, that only needs a once or maybe twice a month watering in the summer to stay green.

The Salinas/Monterey area put a stop to the sea water intrusion by recycling the municipal waste water for agriculture. They had to do this as they were not included in the larger water projects. The inland farms got the water from the projects.

I'd like to see a cistern under every driveway in the urban/suburban areas and municipal cisterns capturing rainwater from the storm drains.

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