Most of the general public is of the mind that farmers rejoice over rain. Particularly after the extended drought and record-breaking summer heat, a non-farmer type would logically assume that the recent rain events found us breaking out the champagne and toasting every downpour. And truth be told, when the initial rains started to fall at the beginning of September, we were indeed cautiously optimistic about the prospect of continued rainfall.

By the end of the month, however, after receiving a total of 8.2 inches, we were beginning to grow a little weary of the rain. While we certainly didn’t want it to cease altogether, we sometimes wished it would hold off at least long enough to get our fall crops in the ground. September is a busy month for planting and we had two greenhouses filled to the brim with starts that desperately needed to be set out.

Finally last Thursday, Farmer John was able to till several rows and we made a concerted effort to empty as much of the greenhouses as possible. We spent many hours planting out tiny collards, kale, chard, escarole, cauliflower, leeks and green onion starts. It was a long day of bending and crouching, but we were happy for the opportunity to get it done – especially since we knew there was once again a good chance for rain that night.

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And rain it did. Around 9:45 p.m., a violent storm let loose its fury directly overhead. When nickel-sized hailstones began beating against our living room windows, John and I opted for a safer spot away from all the glass where we felt a bit more protected yet were still able to view the carnage outside.

“It’s October!” we wailed, as the spring-like storm raged. Although we’re always hopeful they’ll pass us by, we anticipate hail storms like that in April and May. But not in October. Not in the fall.

In ten minutes, 1.3 inches of rain fell on the farm, in addition to the hail. At 10 p.m., inside our flooded outbuilding, I was busy lifting the latest harvest of butternut squash from the waterlogged cardboard upon which it had been left to cure, while John worked the push broom across the floor to get the majority of the water out. Only our utter exhaustion allowed us to sleep at all that night. We knew we’d be faced with a disaster the next day.

Friday morning wasn’t pretty. The escarole we were planting in the previous photo was ripped apart and plastered to the ground;

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as was the tiny chard.

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The bigger chard, from the row we’d been harvesting for our first two farm stands of the season, didn’t fare any better.

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One of the saddest sights, though, was our rows of summer squashes. They had been beautiful – the healthiest squash rows we’d enjoyed since spring, before the horrid heat set in for the duration of the summer – and we’d been picking box upon box of perfect zucchini, Zephyr, yellow straightneck and pattypan from them. Farmer John harvested squash just three hours before the storm.

The morning after, every squash plant was broken and battered.

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A bright spot amongst the devastation was the majority of our Brassicas. Even though the leaves of the broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and green and purple cabbage plants were tattered, very few of them snapped at the base. They have time to recover.

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Sadly, we can’t say the same for the Napa cabbages.

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And although I didn’t take a picture of the rows of tomato plants, let’s just put it this way: There’s no need to ask us if we’ll have fall tomatoes this year.

Surprisingly, we managed to keep some pretty stiff upper lips through it all. It wasn’t the first time the farm was blasted by hail, and it sure as heck won’t be the last. Many plants were lost, but we felt confident that many others would survive.

Then Saturday night it rained again. On Sunday, it poured. In a 12-hour period, seven inches of driving rain fell on the farm, pounding the already hail-battered plants while turning our small creek into a raging river.

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The good news is the water from our creek ultimately spills into Lake Travis, and we all know Lake Travis needs all the water it can get right now. Because of this, John had already perfected his response to the oft-exclaimed, “I’ll bet you’re happy the farm is getting all this rain!” (since farmers are always happy about rain).

So as not to disappoint the grinning inquisitor, Farmer John diplomatically answers, each and every time, “As long as it fills the lake, it doesn’t matter what it does to the farm.”

We do indeed care deeply about the drought coming to an end and the lake filling to normal levels. We’re thrilled to see some progress in that regard. Yet I know, when John gets to the part about the effect on the farm, he’s lying just a little.

***Regrettably, we have to close the farm stands until we can accomplish some clean up work and give the plants time to decide whether or not they’ll live. We WILL be back; we just don’t know yet when that will happen. Our hope is that we’ll see enough improvement in two weeks to return to our markets. I’ll keep you posted.***

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