Sunday, February 26, 2017

Changing Weather and Changing Plans

We had made a week-long reservation at our campground in Yuma, Arizona. That's a long stay for us, as we usually average 3-4 days per stop. But our 6th day here we got to "enjoy" the windy weather of the desert. There was so much sand blowing around that we couldn't see the mountains outside of the city. In fact, we could hardly see things right across the street.

That windy day was followed by a record day of rain. Yuma averages around 3 inches of rain per year. So when we got almost 24 hours of constant rain, that added 0.80 inches of rain to that desert rain gauge. So in that one rainy day, we saw over a third of the normal annual rain fall. All those dirt roads we've been driving on turned to nasty mud. Even a couple days later, we saw that this mud was making the harvest messy. That lettuce needs to be harvested, and the tractor tires were making a muddy mess of the field. Unlike most people in agriculture, the Yuma vegetable farmers don't like rain. They can get the water they need from the river without the interruption of rainy days and the mud it causes.

We weren't sure what this crop was, until we got down-wind from the harvest. They were separating the vegetable away from the plant with sharp knives, and the smell was the same as when you cut celery sticks. We just saw our first celery harvest!

Normally the workers are so focused that they don't have time to look up. But this guy saw our camera, and waved. His smile makes us think that he likes the smell of celery.

When the roads dried enough, we rode our bikes down more of those country roads beside our campground. We have been enjoying watching vegetable harvest around us. Now we are enjoying the smell of rotting vegetables, as a considerable part of the harvest doesn't match the size and quality characteristics set by the buyer of the crop. Denisa thinks there should be a way to have a secondary harvest for those less-than-perfect vegetables to make them available to feed the hungry. It seems such a shame to have it go to waste.

That's when we took more pictures of those beautiful heads of lettuce. This field had already been harvested, but for some reason they left the last few rows uncut. We're guessing that wasn't just because they were picturesque. We were told that if any wildlife goes into a field, that section cannot be harvested because it will be classified as being contaminated. Because these were the rows closest to the road, it might have been determined that the road dust made them unacceptable?

We also had questions about this crop. Covered with yellow flowers, it is a crop of broccoli that has not been harvested. These odorous flowers seem to be very attractive to honey bees, as we see hives all around this field. This field will become broccoli seeds for next year's crop instead of being broccoli florets for this season's table.

We are obviously still enjoying our time here at the winter vegetable capitol. We are also still enjoying the citrus fruit that we brought from Texas. So we made the decision to stay around for a couple more days to replace the two days we lost with the wind and rain. That will give us two more days to eat our tangerines and grapefruit (and to juice the rest) before we have to go through that California agriculture inspection stop. That will also give California more time to dry out from the torrential rains and flood this storm season brought them.

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