by Meg Corey, from Sheila Connolly's Golden Malicious (Orchard Mysteries #7)
I knew when I decided to try to run the orchard on my property in the small Massachusetts town of Granford that it would be hard work. Or rather, I thought I knew. I knew in theory, but the day-to-day reality is something else.
Of course I hire a small team of pickers during the harvest season, because it would be all but impossible for two of us—me and Bree Stewart, my orchard manager—to do it all, even though the apples ripen any time between August and November, so the harvesting is spread out. But I'm still talking about a lot of apples. And like babies, the apples are ready when they decide, not when you'd prefer.
But I never really thought about watering. I assumed Mother Nature took care of that, or if she didn't provide rain, those were the breaks. But now that I'm depending on my harvest for my income, I can't just shrug and say "too bad" when rain doesn't fall.
|The springhouse that covers|
The good news is, I have a natural spring in the middle of my orchard. The bad news is, it's right in the middle of the orchard, but there are no hoses or pipes to carry the water to the whole eighteen acres of my orchard. So that means that during a serious rain shortage, Bree and I have to haul water around the entire orchard and water the trees ourselves. By hand. And keep on doing it until it rains.
I know I shouldn't complain. When my colonial house was built, the spring was probably there, but either the farmers had to sit by and watch their crops wither, or they had to hitch up a horse to a wagon with a wooden tank and do what I've been doing. Only I get to use a small tanker truck instead of horses.
One other thing about droughts: everything dries out, and that means it catches fire really easily and burns fast. We've got a good local fire department, but they can't always get to a fire quickly enough—especially if it's someplace it shouldn't be. And that's scary—I found out the hard way.
Golden Malicious will be published October 1, 2013, by Berkley Prime Crime.