Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Did Someone Say Center Pivot?

Only did you say Center Pivot if you were:

  • driving by the farm and happened to notice our new irrigation system
  • calling us from the NRCS office to talk about said system
  • stopping by the farm to finish the day with us as we mumble about the trials of installing big deal irrigation

But really...this season will mark a first for us. We'll be able to water our fields! Two things happened that made this possible. The first started way back at the 2010 election when Mainer's passed a Water Bond Package that allowed for money to be allocated for the development of water sources for farmer's in need. We were the lucky recipients of a Water Source Development Grant from the Maine Department of Agriculture last spring.

Last May, we hired a well driller and low and behold....he struck what for me accounts for gold or oil or manna in the form of 100 gallons a minute of water flow. The best part of the story about the well must include mention of the well driller, Joe, and his brother arriving at the farm on a late Sunday afternoon. John was in the field working when they drove up . Joe's brother is a dowser and they had come by to dowse the field. Dowsing is the art of finding energy associated with water. They walked with a dowsing rod around the field. Joe, the well driller, came over to "explain" to John that his brother would get a better read if he took off his shoes but he was feeling uncomfortable. For us, we were feeling pretty open to whatever it took to find some water. Barefoot dowsers in our field would have been a delight. As it turns out, drilling for water appears to be an art, with no guarantees, as stated on their contract. But, I totally attribute our success to the dowser. When they called on a cool mid-May evening to say they struck 100 gallons a minute, we experienced an elation that I can only compare to how I might feel if I won the lottery...the Mother Nature Lottery. Thank you citizens of Maine for passing the bond package, thank you Department of Agriculture for considering our application, thank you Gallant brothers for your water wisdom and thank you Mother Earth for your manna.

(This thing drilled under the road!)

(Heading under Broadturn Road!)

(Everyone watching closely to see the drill come under the road)

That brings me to the second thing....the National Resource Conservation Service's (NRCS) Agricultural Management Assistance program. On a warm afternoon last summer, our NRCS representative stopped by to let us know they had funds for water delivery systems (aka irrigation systems). Reluctant at first, we were convinced after a  trip to our neighbor's place to watch his center pivot irrigation unit in action. We muddled through the process, obtained estimates, and considered designs. What emerged was a plan for 2 systems on our fields and one in the field we sublease to our neighbors, Snell Family Farm. By the fall of 2011, we were digging 6ft trenches, pouring concrete and welcoming a crew of lovely gentleman from the county to build our system. A center pivot irrigation system in a nutshell is a large metal arm with sprinklers that pivots from a central point, covering a large radius with water in an amount that is programmed into the computerized control system. Think crop circles...

This is the pivot point, centrally located in the field and mounted to a concrete pad.

And now, we are no longer dry-land farmers. Historically, our 1 gallon per minute well that delivers water to our house and our livestock would run dry when we would attempt to irrigate with it. The idea of being able to "make it rain" anytime with the gentle drops from our sprinkler system and our drip irrigation system provides a sense of real comfort. I must admit though, that the sight of these large scale pieces of agricultural magic make me think we are no longer gardeners but must embrace our title of farmers. That's what I listed as my profession on my passport renewal form. I hope that doesn't get us stopped at customs too many times. And if we fail to succeed at watering our crops with the new center pivot irrigation system, we think the summer camp kids would really enjoy running through the mist on a hot July day.


1 comment:

  1. I am SO impressed with all that you all have accomplished with Broadturn Farm. I am proud to call you all neighbors and brag to friends and family that we have you in our town.