The chain of gain is mostly from the rain

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When we lived in New York, drought was an abstract concept. I understood that, for people across large swaths of the world, it meant a serious threat to lives and livelihoods, but for us it meant that the weather was nice and that we didn’t flush the toilet. Now, though, I’m getting just the faintest inkling of its full import.

Not that we’re having a drought. It’s just that we had four weeks of almost rain-free weather. From the last week in July to the last week in August, we had a little over half an inch of rain, and our garden felt it. We watered almost daily, but it’s just not the same. A few things died, and a lot more failed to thrive.

A frame of Big Bee. The white in the corner is honey.

Worse, though, was the toll it took on the bees. We got an e-mail from the Barnstable County Beekeepers Association: STARVATION ALERT! There’s been such a paltry supply of nectar this summer that some hives in our area have consumed all their honey stores, evicted all their drones, and stopped producing brood.

It’s unfortunate that the weather that’s ideal for humans is distinctly sub-optimal for crops and bees. We’ve had warmth, sun, and low humidity for long stretches this summer, and it’s been a pleasant change from last summer, which was unrelentingly cold and wet.

This week, the skies opened up. In three days, we got over two inches of rain. That was four days ago, and already we can see the benefit. The garden is finally popping, with squash growing up the woodpile and a tomato plant topping Kevin’s most optimistic trellising.

Six inches in diameter!

There’s grass coming up, which makes the chickens happy enough so we hope they’ll stop scratching up the mulch. The bees are coming in with loads of pollen on their back legs. And the mushroom logs, which had been dormant for two months, delivered a couple of shiitakes the size of dessert plates.

I think we can flush the toilet now.

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Comments

  1. When you depend on the rain and it has been dry, you go outside and stand in it because it feels so good. When your life doesn’t move around rain, you watch it from inside through a window. I hope you enjoyed every single inch you received. Damn that shiitake looks amazing!

  2. We got about 10 lbs of honey from our two (first year) hives. The rest we left to the bees. An expert beekeeper told me that amount was decent for their first year and our dry, dry summer in Ohio. Have you harvested yet?

  3. Brooke — We didn’t get to the point of doing the raindance, but we were certainly happy to see some rain. And the shiitakes took us by surprise!

    Erica — Congratulations on your first harvest! I don’t think we’ll get any this year, unless there’s a really big nectar flow in the fall. It would be nice to have even one lousy pound, just to say we’ve got it, but I’m not optimistic.

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