I usually love to celebrate the first harvests coming from our yard as it gives me great hope and comfort to be able to provide some of the food our family eats. This year has not been a comfort, and I can feel my ancestors shivering in sympathy over the harvest so far. A bad year like this to them meant hungry times by spring.
First, the big freezes: just as all of the trees were blooming our area had an unexpected very late deep freeze. We lost all of our walnuts, apples, plums, peaches, almonds. The area that I live in had a near 100% loss of the fruit tree crops.
Second, when I went to a conference in Portland, I left my daughter in charge of my baby plants for transplanting. Unexpected heat wave, neglectfulness on her part and an accident with a plastic sheet killed 150+ plants. Ack. I replanted, but only about 100 plants. I went to a conference in Redding for a few days and when I came back, all dead again. So I only replanted a few things and basically gave up.
This summer, we had something, maybe a skunk, tunnel under the ducks pen and killed the ducks. The 20 chickens all met up with a predator after being let out one day. A miscommunication (to put it nicely) between the Old Man and I caused one entire side of the garden to die from the lack of water (all of my zukes, pumpkins, watermelons, peppers, cow peas, pinto beans, various squashes…gone). I also lost my herb garden.
This is almost more than I can bear, and really getting me down! I have tomatoes coming off, and bells, and some squash, but not much else. I have been canning, but by making runs to the fruit/veg stands in the valley to supplement what I have.
A funny thing I noticed about the fruit stands and the farmer’s market: no one has serious quantities to sell for canning, etc any more. I remember when I was a kid buying boxes of produce and putting it up. Perhaps it is becoming a lost art? I think that very soon this kind of information will be very valuable, and those that hold it will need to share it as much as possible.
As for the bad harvest: I will purchase what I need this year to carry us over to the next, but wonder: what will happen when I can’t do that anymore?