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Rough Sailing Weather

Posted 4/19/2012 9:38am by Jacob and Katie Mullane-Bach.

Before we began our farming adventure drastic changes in weather temperatures were simply that.  However, since we’ve become parents to big sheets of plastic, forecasts with a substantial weather shift means possible heavy winds as the new front enters our region. Such was the case three days ago as winds blew nearly 60 miles per hour across the fields. Protocol for such weather has us opening all doors and sides to the hoophouses allowing the wind to blow through and not against the plastic. Our bodies can not help but tense up as we watch the plastic concaving in from the force of the wind dancing the unsettling image of sails. Even though row cover is held down with sand bags in the fields, they usually manage to free themselves amidst such intense winds and are quite the bear to put back on. Windy days can be very stressful on the farm. The new front that just arrived April 16th was bringing tidings of cooler temperatures and possible frosts for the evening. So, amidst the winds, Jacob and interns were scurrying to replace mangled row covers on the fields when suddenly one side of a hoophouse’s plastic ripped clean and straight across the top edge, while the other side held strong creating an enormous sail vertically. Jacob ran across the field as the poles of the hoophouse being lifted into the air cried for his help. He grabbed his pocketknife and began cutting the sheet of plastic free from the other edge to deaden the sail affect. He worked quickly and with intensity as Forrest followed him from cutting point to cutting point chattering away “happy as a lark” about the windy day and all the drama involved in farm winds.  When the plastic had unveiled itself the frost sensitive cucumber seedlings along with many other newly planted and sprouted seedlings had experienced a sudden harsh exposure to wind – not the gradual “hardening off” initiation that young seedlings are carefully afforded.

With possible frost projections still forecasted the crew needed to move quickly to ensure the survival of the many seedlings of life they are responsible for protecting. Against the winds they gathered the cleanly ripped sheet of plastic, positioned themselves for an opportune wind moment and wrestled the massive plastic sheet down over the low hoops securing them with sandbags. With the seedlings now protected from wind, they army crawled under the plastic and tucked row cover (blankets) over the plants as added protection from the possible frosts. 

The frost was gentle that night and no lives were lost, though there was a little damage from the winds.  By early afternoon the next day the roughly thousand dollars in damage had all been repaired. Just one of the reasons why early cucumbers and tomatoes have a higher dollar value…