According to my best calculations, the garden has approximately 20 irrigation rows that run about 100 yards long. I could be wrong. Both Jon and I are terrible at math, and most calculations. For years he walked around thinking he was a year older than his actual age. But we know for sure that the garden is huge, and that Missouri is prone to drought, and that watering that beast is going to be a devil of a chore.
Our temporary solution is this: 400 feet of garden hose, a small generator, and a pump to draw up water from the nearby creek.
I worry too much once plans are set into action, but when ideas are still inanimate, I tend to be an idealist.
“It’s going to be a lot of work,” Jon warned.
“It’s fine!” I said, waving my hand. Silly man.
Once it was set up, he dragged the hose to the northernmost row on the property, farthest from the creek, and dropped it on the ground. Like magic, water poured from the spout and fanned out across the dirt, obediently following its irrigation line down the row.
“Perfect,” I said.
He looked at me, furrowing his brow. “Now, Rosie,” he said carefully, “I know you kinda like things perfect, and I kinda like things perfect, too, but the trick to this watering thing is not to let it drive you crazy.”
“I won’t,” I said quickly.
“Well don’t.” Then he explained that I’d have to watch the rows and occasionally move the hose. Sure, sure. Simple enough. Then we cracked open beers from the cooler and walked the other 19 dry rows, surveying the day’s planting, before going home for the night.
The next day, I came out to the garden alone, started the generator, and left the hose to do its magic. Fifteen minutes later, the water pressure had furrowed its way underground to find some kind of air pocket, flooded it, and caved in a section of an irrigation row a foot deeper than the rest of the garden. Cursing, I moved the hose farther down the row to a new dry patch, and kicked dirt over the mud ditch.
That’s pretty close to how the entire day went. A few rows (row 19 lovingly comes to mind) worked almost perfectly: the hose only needed to be moved three or four times to adjust for subtle variations in the grade. Row 16 demanded a complete hand watering. None of the water had any intention of going where it was supposed to go.
Three hot hours later, I had mud smeared on my face and on my jeans, and from the corner of the field came Eljay, a friend of Jon’s who tends the cows and helps out with the oak savannah project on the hills.
“That’s one big garden,” he said in his Missouri drawl.
“Yep,” I said.
“Man, that’s one quiet generator.”
“Yeah, it is.”
“So you’ve got it so the generator pulls the water from a pump or something?”
“And then it comes out that there hose?”
“Yeah,” I said, then turned away from him to move the hose down the line. I hoped he didn’t see the mud ditch on the north end.
“Well.” He squinted at the hose for a long, slow moment, then lifted his eyes to me. Smiled and said, “Looks like it’ll work.”
I’ll take that as a compliment. Looks like my days as the Mac County donkey are winding down.