Chickens working their magic on the
future garden expansion
As with all farming ventures sometimes it feels as if we are taking two steps forward and one step back. Last summer, Karin and I took a 12 week Whole Farm Planning class through Washington State University. During that class one of our speakers was a representative from NRCS (National Resource Conservation Services). It's a federal program through the Department of Agriculture. In September we decided to apply for a high tunnel grant! Well, long story short, our representative retired in December, we have prime soils for the endangered Mazama Pocket Gopher (another long story if you're not from Thurston County), and we needed to have three pocket gopher studies done on the property. Only two had been done in October, so now we must wait until June when they become active again. This study will determine whether we can even have a high tunnel. So far, this particular gopher has not been found here! So, sadly NO high tunnel this year. One step back.
In January I met with our new NRCS representative. During that meeting she asked, "Do you have water rights?". Uhhhh??? I had no idea. When we starting looking for property I spent time looking to make sure we didn't purchase something with wetlands, or in a flood zone, that seemed important. But never did I think about water rights?? If you do not have water rights on your property you are limited to how much water you can use out of your well per year. And, as I was told by my rep, with no water rights there is no way you will be able to irrigate and produce enough vegetables for a farmstand. UGH! I was feeling very discouraged in January, but never discouraged enough to quit! Last week I received an email from my representative asking me to fill out a Conservation Survey which would be required for any EQUIP grants. As I filled out the 14 page form, again I was confronted with 'do you have water rights'. Ok, I decided I am going to resolve this! I went to google and asked 'How do I find water rights info'. It took me right to the Department of Ecology. There was the link, I clicked, entered our address, and to my suprise there was a water claim for the property from 1972! There was also a copy of the document. I sent this to our rep, and low and behold WE HAVE WATER RIGHTS!!! I was so excited! When Ted got home the first thing out of my mouth was "WE HAVE A FARM!!!". This is huge! It opens up the possibilities for more grants and help with water conservation for irrigation and many other option. Two steps forward!!! Never quit!