On The Waterfront
As I wrote about in “Blue Rock Ridge” (http://markyswrite.blogspot.com/2011/07/blue-rock-ridge.html), water is the key to survival anywhere, but especially when you are trying to homestead a twenty-acre parcel of land, up on a mountain-top. What I was unable to provide for readers at the time I wrote that piece, was the eventual solution to the problem of water.
It came down simply to the fact that if we dug it, the rain would fill it. Having had a pond put in about seven years ago, that certainly was adequate enough to get Happyday Farms off the ground, we were determined to build a more substantial water-storage “facility,” call it a pond, a reservoir or a lake. Above all, call it the answer to our dreams, obtained through industry and hard work.
The first thing you must realize is that when I say we, I am inevitably talking about Casey, because I am in no position to have a back-yard swimming pool put in, let alone a lake. But Casey being the industrious lad that he is, has been planning this development for quite some time, so he had been setting aside revenue little by little, and with some financial help from this family member here, and a hill loan from this neighbor on the mountain there, he had the lake put in last summer.
Beginning at the end of June and going pretty much six days a week for about the next six weeks, we heard the squealing, grinding, scraping, dragging cacophony of the heavy-equipment-on-tracks, doing the work. When asked why the reservoir needed to be so large (we estimate the volume to be two-and-a-half million gallons), Casey responded that he and Amber like to function on the ten-year plan.
Ten years ago in 2004, Casey and I and various helpers, built his original house, and he began to plant veggies and tomatoes on his site.
Ten years from now, I would expect that instead of farming two acres as he is now, Casey, Lito, Amber and Company will have expanded ten-fold. After all, they have forty acres with which to work, including the twenty acre parcel which houses the pond. That’s why building the existing pond makes sense.
What does not make sense is the logistical hoops that Mendocino County throws up in front of us to make the whole process so laborious, not to mention acrimonious. Water is obviously a touchy subject in the midst of a drought. There is also a great deal of emphasis being placed on illegal grow-sites and the water sources that supply these endeavors. These elements combine to make it seem as though we are up to no good, here at Happyday Farms.
We see the construction of the reservoir as a community-contributing endeavor. Not only does it supply water for community agriculture, it also provides safety for the ridge-top community during times of wildfire-danger, which means in some seasons, from April through November.
There is no river, stream, creek, brook, or watercourse which flows into the pond. We are not taking the water from someone else. During this past winter, the reservoir was still only about one-fourth of the way filled, mid-way through February. Then along came the Pineapple Express, bringing heavy rainfall for a couple of weeks, and the lake filled up.
Once again, we seized the initiative, had a pond put in, and now the county determines that an engineering report is required, permits must be sought, hoops must be jumped though, and bureaucracy endured. Oh, and they will want big bucks, too.
All well and good, as long as the process goes forward. It would seem that we are all on the same side, but it’s hard to say. I mean, I know the county is not concerned with past transgressions against the land by the timber industry. Here on the ridge, the trees were taken twice, at least, once back in the thirties, and once a bit more recently.
The desertification of the terrain has been in progress for generations now, and small farmers like Casey are trying to restore the environment to the way it used to be before the land was logged. To accomplish this, more water storage units like our pond are needed.
Not everyone has the perseverance to be able to construct such a watershed, so those that do should be rewarded, not penalized.