***We’re reopening the Jollyville Road farm stand this coming Wednesday! We’ll bring as much as we can, despite the minor disaster the farm suffered. Here’s the story:

We joke with Mary and Dana about how it always rains when Farmer John and I take our annual vacation in September. Still, since it’s usually dry as a bone about the time we’re readying the farm and ourselves for the trip, John writes out meticulous irrigation instructions – instructions that often wind up moot, as Mother Nature tends to turn on her spigots seemingly moments after our plane leaves the ground.

This year was no different as far as the anticipated waterworks, but Mom Nature’s agent, Tropical Storm Hermine, apparently forgot to turn the spigots back off. (Too bad John didn’t “cc” Hermine with his irrigation directions.) As John and I were settling into our second week in beautiful midcoast California, the creek back here at the farm was flooding like it has never flooded before – at least not in the 14 years we’ve owned this property. We flipped on our cell phone the morning after the flood and were greeted with a tense voicemail message from Mary. As John called her back, I turned on my laptop and read an email from our nearest neighbor.

About 900 feet of the farm fence had been knocked to the ground by the force of rushing water and debris, leaving the farm wide open to deer and feral hogs that roam this area. And the low water crossing was indistinguishable under swollen floodwaters, making travel to the farm by car impossible.

While John spoke with Mary on the phone, our minds were racing. The chickens were locked in their henhouse with no food; both greenhouses were packed full of transplants in need of watering (irony at its finest); and our house…. Although it sits far from the creek, our house is built on a grade. There are two drains at the base of our front porch allowing water to flow through pipes in the slab and out the other side, yet since no one was there to monitor the drains they could have easily become clogged with leaves and other vegetation, forcing the water to crest over the porch and under our front door.

Mary would have to drive to our kind neighbor’s house high on the hill behind the farm, and hike down the muddy slope. Before John could say as much on the phone, Mary had already made plans with her husband to do just that. She’d call us once they got food and water to the hens, and assessed the situation.

After John hung up, we waited. And tried not to think too hard about our house.

Finally, Mary called. The house was okay. Thank goodness for small miracles. The fence, however, was a wreck…

…as were any of the crops, including many of our apple trees, unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity.

I remember at the farm stand one day last year, a home gardener was chatting it up with Farmer John. Normally, John likes nothing more than talking about growing, but this guy was taking it a little too far. He kept contending that rain is beneficial, no matter what. When John tried to point out that there are indeed times when too much rain falls, the gardener refused to acquiesce. “Rain is ALWAYS good,” he insisted. I could tell John’s blood was beginning to boil, but to the untrained eye he appeared calm. I was proud of him.

Rain is not always good.

Mary took these photos with her phone. She emailed them to me in California in a photobucket.com album that she entitled “SadWetFarm.” She apologized for sending such bad news during our vacation.

This is how Mary is. After hiking down – and then back up – a slippery mud-packed hill, she apologizes to us. Do you think we’re lucky to have her with us? Yes, so do we. Just as lucky as we are to have Dana. And Vicky. And Davy, who no longer works here, but who drove to the top of the hill one morning and hiked down to help get the fence shored up.

After two long, exhausting days, Mary and Dana (with Vicky and Davy’s help one of the days) were able to drive metal t-stakes at angles along the battered fence …

… then hoist the fence sections up and secure them to the stakes with wire.

It’s a temporary fix, but as Mary entitled these two photos, it was “AProfessionalJob.”

I’ll say.

Because of their heroics – and what they did was definitely heroic – John and I were able to enjoy the second week of our vacation. Had it not been for Mary and Dana, as well as Vicky and Davy, we would have had to cut our trip short and miss out on things like this:

Oh, and I mustn’t forget to mention our guardian angel.

She came close to being another casualty of Hermine’s fury. Luckily, Dana found her washed downstream a ways, and was able to rescue her. She wasn’t completely unscathed – she lost one of her outstretched arms to the floodwaters – but as it is with every guardian angel, she was willing to make sacrifices for the good of those she’s been sent to protect. In fact, she’s doing her part even now, after the flood, by helping to hold up a portion of the broken fence.

While John and I were still in California, a local television weatherman reported briefly on the flooding Hermine had caused in Texas by saying, “There’s nothing but oil derricks and barbed wire there anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.”

If he only knew.

* * *

For obvious reasons, the fall season is going to start a bit more slowly than it might have otherwise…but not everything was ruined by the flood! We’ll bring as much as we possibly can for our first farm stand of the season, this coming Wednesday, Sept. 29th. We look forward to seeing you! Here’s what we’ll have:

LOADS of summer squash – Zephyr, yellow squash, zucchini and some pattypan; Texas hard pears (delicious cut in thin slices on top of a salad, or cooked in tarts, etc.); heirloom eggplant and white Japanese eggplant; red bell peppers, cubanelle peppers, white bell peppers and jalapenos; bags of arugula; mixed Asian greens; bunches of basil; some cucumbers; and the last jars of Angel Valley Farm honey.

Jo Dwyer
Angel Valley Organic Farm
Farm stands:
Saturdays 9:00-1:00 in Jonestown on FM 1431 at the blinking yellow light; and
Wednesdays 10:00-2:00 in NW Austin at the Asian American Center on Jollyville Road (1-1/2 blocks north of the intersection of Jollyville and Duval)