Potato garden 4-3-15 IMG_0054

One of the challenges we have faced with gardening the past few years has been three “100 year events” of flash flooding since 2011. The field above was a newly tilled garden until April 3 when three inches of rain in less than two hours sent the creeks over the banks and turned intermittent mountain streams into raging creeks filling the road with debris. Over two hundred people in nearby counties lost their bridges most of whom are still stranded a week later.

The red trailer below was surrounded by water for nearly a week—our neighbor had their son stay elsewhere as they watched the waters continue to rise with subsequent storms and wondered if the precarious plank they stretched from their porch to the road would hold. The abandoned trailer next door is still in the midst of a lake (as it has often been since heavy timbering and the advance of a mountain top removal site beyond the ridge top that has altered long-term patterns of drainage.

Neighbor surrounded 2IMG_0059

The immediate losses of this year’s crops were minor as reported by the 40+ gardeners who gathered at our workshop last week. It had been such a long winter and wet spring that people had not put their potatoes in yet and the net loss seems to have been a couple of rows of onions and 27 “suicidal” chickens. (One gardener had relocated her chickens to a higher barn but in the night they returned to their henhouse and drowned).

But the loss of work—of years of building up top soil, and of recent tilling really can’t be counted. And the uncertainty of where it is safe to plant will take its toll for some time to come.

Tilling the garden a few days before the flood (later covered by sand)

Tilling the garden a few days before the flood (later covered by sand)

Today’s blog is picture heavy and text light. We have 14 wonderful friends from Earlham College in on a service trip and after a breakfast of farm fresh eggs (from chickens that did survive the flood) we’re heading out to help people clean up from the latest “100 year” flood.

Neighbors bridge 3IMG_0051

–Michael Tierney, Big Ugly Creek