Sunday, June 02, 2013


Weather: Winds; last rain 4/09/13; 14:26 hours of daylight today.

The winds lasted long enough to start two fires, then died down. But not before destroying flower buds as surely as frost destroyed the apricots and apples.

What’s blooming in the area: Dr. Huey, old pink and hybrid roses, daylilies, silver lace vine, peonies, oriental poppies, Jupiter’s beard, purple salvia, blue flax, alfalfa.

Beyond the walls and fences: Apache plume, black locust, tamarix, alfilerillo, yellow sweet clover, scurf, bush and sweet peas, tumble mustard, wild licorice, showy milkweed, purple mat flower, fern-leaved globemallow, bindweed, greenleaf five-eyes, tufted and prairie white evening primroses, scarlet bee blossom, blue trumpets, common dandelion, goat’s beard, cream tips, Hopi tea, horsetail, June, needle, rice and cheat grasses.

In my yard, looking east: Persian rose, small-leaf soapwort, snow-in-summer, Bath pinks, pink evening primrose, winecup mallow; buds on baby’s breath, sea pink and pink salvia.

Looking south: Rugosa roses, beauty bush, oxalis.

Looking west: Johnson Blue geranium, Rumanian sage, catmints, vinca, Shasta daisy.

Looking north: Golden spur columbine, Hartweig primrose, coreopsis, chocolate flowers; buds on yellow yarrow and anthemis.

In the open, along the drive: Dutch clover, white yarrow; buds on hollyhocks.

Bedding plants: Nicotiana, wax begonias, periwinkle, sweet alyssum, snapdragons, French marigolds; buds on pansies.

Known unknowns: Pink bud peaked, rosemary leaves, native dandelion, fleabane.

What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums, petunias.

Animal sightings: Rabbit, snake, hummingbird, goldfinches, house finches, chickadees, geckos, bumblebee, smaller bees on geranium, hornets, cricket, grasshoppers, harvester and smaller ants.

Weekly update: The line dividing man from nature is clear this year. On one side, individuals who, from tradition, aesthetics or other impulses, value plants are doing what they can to deliver water. On the other, nature is captive to the vagaries of storm systems and besieged by winds.

Little snow fell this winter and less rain came this spring. The first of April, when the ditch first opened, the acequia gave each section two days a week to water. The following weekend, the mayordomo restricted people to every other weekend. He said:

"We still believe a sizeable amount of runoff will be melting soon so we are hoping to have an ample amount of water for 4 or 5 weeks before we go on a 3 day schedule."

The water comes from the Santa Cruz dam. When the number of days are reduced, the number of people who can irrigate drops. One has to call each week to be scheduled for water. The first of May the acequia was on a three day cycle.

When you drive by, you see field after field where the flow of water stops.

In some cases, the fields may not be level enough, but most were evened by water years ago. In some places, soils may be different. More likely, it’s simple physics. Gravity flow, even augmented by pumps, will send water so far. The more water, the farther it will go. When the access is cut, the amount of water available decreases, and areas are left dry.

The mayordomo warned in April that if you put in a garden.

"you plant one at your own risk as we may have to alternate weeks to water. Row Crops can not make it longer than 7 to 10 days without water so if we have to alternate weeks, garden's do not have priority over pastures or orchards."

The available rules are defined by tradition that has been codified by law.

Members can deliver the water where they want, how they want. Some have installed large pipes which can be moved to direct the flow.

Others use pumps and large hoses. Some water large fields. Some direct it into smaller areas where they have planted.

Everywhere, success depends on nature. Three weeks ago I could run a soaker hose at five in the evening. Two weeks ago I could not. The air was so dry, the winds so severe, the water no longer made it to the ground. Even now, I deliver twice at much water at seven than at six in the evening. People on the ditch must use the water when it’s running, which is during the day.

In May, the mayordomo said "Enjoy the Water while we have it!!!" The best one can do now is take as much as can be gotten and store it in the ground. When the heat arrives, evaporation may pull it up, but it has to pass by the roots. Keeping the roots alive may be all any hay farmer hopes for this year.

Notes: Comments on ditch from acequia website.

1. Village ditch, yesterday, 1 June 2013.

2. Irrigated field, 31 May 2013. The reason it is so lush is the full allotment is used on a small portion of the original field; the rest has been used for housing.

3. Rim of green surrounding my drive, 31 May 2013. The natural grasses include beige ones near the water which grew last year, and charcoal ones in the foreground. They depend of monsoons which have failed for two years. Tahoka daisies have found some water in the gravel in the middle of the drive.

4. Water entering a hay field, 3 May 2013.

5. Same field, 11 April 2013, just after the first flow of water which did not reach the far end. He had recently burned weeds near the edge, which may have come with the water.

6. Hay field, 1 May 2013, that gets flooded and normally is fully green. Last year he cut his first crop around May 22.

7. Large vegetable garden, irrigated from the ditch, 31 May 2013. He uses a shallow ditch to deliver his water which is distributed down the rows.

8. Irrigated lawn, 31 May 2013. He switches the location of the white pipe midway through a run to reach the entire width. The person who planted the trees deliberately may have created low circles around them to capture more water.

9. Selectively irrigated field, 31 May 2013. He’s a long distance from the ditch, and uses a pump to get his water. The hose dumps the water uphill from the row of trees, and it follows the contours of the land. Irrigation is recent, and there probably has never been enough water to flood level his land.

10. Hay field greening after it was burned and after the first flow of water, 11 April 2013. He uses a large irrigation pipe like #8, and apparently was directing the water to one section.

11. This week he was directing the water to the next section; 1 June 2013.

12. The same section of the same hay field two years ago, 7 August 2011. The dividing line is between the area he is watering now and the area that is still dormant. The alfalfa has revived faster than the brome grass here and everywhere.

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