Watering: Do Aquarians Always End Up Stuck Doing This?

September 3, 2007

Two weeks to go to the IPM and no rain in sight. The butternuts soaked up a full day of effort yesterday. That’s 1/3 of the display field. Two more days and I can finish it. Of course the other walnut field grows even more parched, not to mention the pine and spruce seedlings which haven’t received a drink yet this year.

On Saturday two horticulturalists passed through the display field, though, and commented on how lively the trees looked in comparison to their last visit two weeks before. They commented that they had thought I was using fertilizer. Unless you count the chocolate residue in the tank, it’s just well water.

I came upon an elderly couple wandering the woods on Saturday. The husband seemed to be tracking the spread of walnuts along the fence rows and into the forest from the parent tree. He commented, “You have a lovely, quiet woodlot here.” He intended “quiet” as a compliment, but I’m not quite sure what he meant. Very smart guy, though. I’ll think about that for a while.

Another guy got off a Gator and walked up to me yesterday. “How old are the trees?” He indicated the butternuts which greedily drank up all the water I would give them. This was a conversation-starter rather like the old standard, “How old is your dog?”

Turns out he’s a member of the tent-erection crew, a farmer from near London, Ontario. He looked at the metal-bound plastic tank mounted on my utility trailer. “I use two of them on a truck to haul water to my cattle.” We agreed that the IBC tank has come into its own on the farm.

He told me about the drought in Western Ontario, and how his own seedlings are drying up. Apparently a single cutting of hay in his area amounts to a catastrophe, because he said it with the same emphasis I have heard from others. I just wish he’d been here three weeks ago when I had to bush hog thirty acres because no one wanted the hay, or last week when I completed the second trimming of the fields.

Vultures continually orbit above the new tents. I don’t know if the mass of white produces updrafts or if they are waiting for them to decay into something edible, but so far the tented city has become a magnet for vultures. They are amazing fliers. If not for their dietary habits, I’ll bet a lot of sailplane clubs would have Vulture in their names.

More entertaining is Zeke, the juvenile red-tailed hawk who has become my field companion. Zeke likes to buzz my tractor or golf cart from behind, then land on a branch to watch me pass. He usually manages a visit every day. One day he and a sibling practiced aerobatics above my head while I tried to mow straight rows. The lesson of the day seemed to be the hover. They took turns riding the slight updraft until they stalled, fell into a spin, pulled out with a sideslip, and then watched the other try the same trick.

The coyotes seem to have given up ownership of the walnut field after a last-ditch night of scenting. Seems they couldn’t compete with a 250 gallon tank and a garden hose. Now I’ve started to see the odd mouse again.

Time to get at it. Later.

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