Holding on to Every Last Drop


The sun rose high in the sky, repeating its unending cycle. Early in the day, it had already been hot enough to cause sweat to bead at the back of the neck and within every fold of skin just by standing outside. Like the sun’s continuous rise and fall, the heat too felt constant and unwavering. There were few clouds to give any momentary shade. No rain came to cool the dried, hot soil. Day after steaming day, the cosmic rays beat down upon the earth, beating down both plant and animal alike.

The small farmer, with piecemeal tools and limited supplies, pushed back against the sun’s ravaging rays. With soaker hoses, sprinklers, and buckets, eat plant received its turn for water. The animals struggled through the hot days; the heat emanating from the ground as much as from the sky. Shade could only do so much. Despite this, one of the greatest assets on the farm was protecting what little water remained in the ground: the mulch, both living and recycled.

For the animals, even straw-covered ground was better than bare dirt. The best was grass, which was cooler still, but at midday, the coolest place with shade was now under constant use and no grass would grow there. The plants that were thriving despite the long last heatwave were those surrounded by mulch. Even though the last rain was nearly two weeks past, those places with mulch were found to still have moist soil below the shredded paper, layers of pulled weeds, or piles of grass clippings. Even those plants still growing amidst a sea of weeds were doing better than those with no protection as although the weeds may take up some water too, they still shielded the ground from the powerful glare of the sun and created cool, damp pockets at the base of the plants.

Once the rain finally did come, gravity quickly pulled the rain down into the thirsty soil. If the plants could be heard, their songs would be loud and harmonious. The sheep and calf stopped panting and relaxed in the middle of the field, chewing their cud peacefully. The poultry no longer needed to hide among the shrubs to find a cool breeze. The rain would be taken up quickly by the plants and the mulch will continue to hold in every last drop to provide the plants with a far longer period of water than without it.

It is certainly no easy task working with mother nature at times. there is no controlling the weather and despite man’s best guesses, the forecasters remain ever unable to truly tell the future. However, by watching nature and mimicking those same strategies, gardens can flourish even during the most difficult of days. Growing plants and raising livestock is essentially about caring for the soil. When the soil is cared for properly, it is more resilient and capable of dealing with whatever weather it must endure, allowing both the vegetables and the livestock to grow fast and be healthy.

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