Thanking the Lord for Rain

When you put down grass seed, you hope and pray for gentle rain, but you almost never get it. We did. Did we deserve this?


We finished work on the septic tank August 20, and the result was naked ground. I can’t get back to the rain totals that long ago now, but we got a frog strangler, I think the next day. When Amanda and I returned to the farm the day after that, there were big gullies through the fresh soil, and the dirt had settled in a scary looking way around the borders of the septic tank. With visions of grandchildren falling into fresh poop dancing in our heads, Amanda and I decided we needed to act quickly.

I filled in the gullies and the settled spots as best I could with Tractor’s bucket, reminding myself as I did it how fortunate we are that Big Brother talked me into getting a front-end loader. I pulled the soil from the big pile of topsoil and compost we had placed on Veg Hill while Amanda did some emergency weeding in our veg patch. Then Tractor used his magical disk to smooth everything out. We had bought fescue seed at Verbena Farm Supply on our way down to the farm (the last bag they had, probably left over from last year), and we bought some more Sunday at Home Depot in a shiny silver bag with big bold graphics.

We needed straw to cover the fescue, and Farmers Feed in Wetumpka didn’t have any due in until Tuesday, so first thing Tuesday morning, 1-Ho and I picked up six bales of wheat straw at Farmers Feed and secured it under the pole barn roof, because we were expecting rain that afternoon.

Wednesday, August 26, Joe and I spent most of the day getting our Zareba G550 gate opener installed. We spent about half that time rehanging the gate because Amanda and I had not mounted it level enough, but that’s another story. While we worked on the gate, Michelle, Smith, and Amanda (okay, Michelle and Amanda did most of the heavy lifting; Smith just supervised) scattered 35 lb. of fescue seed and began covering it with the straw. Amanda and I finished covering the seed with the straw later that afternoon after Joe and Michelle (and Smith) had left.

As usual, I was all about production and speed, and Amanda was all about doing the job right. No, Lee, that’s not quite good enough; you have a stalk of straw oriented in the wrong direction, and it must be adjusted. We really are yin and yang on these kinds of tasks, and in good Asian fashion the whole exceeds either of the parts. Left alone, I would produce an impossibly messy and incomplete mish-mash; Amanda, left alone, would produce almost nothing, gracefully and perfectly. Together, we’re making a home both of us find, shall we say, pleasing.

Now about that rain. We planted on August 26. Here are the rain totals for the next few days:

  • August 27: 1.82 inches
  • August 28: .06 inches
  • August 29: .09 inches
  • August 30: .82 inches
  • August 31: .76 inches
  • September 1: 0 inches
  • September 2: 0 inches

And it’s raining again this morning. We’re thrilled. We had the hoses and the sprinkler’s ready and used them on August 26 and 27 but haven’t used them since. Haven’t needed to.

There’s a scary part of this story, though. We didn’t notice until after we had bought it and spread it, but that grass seed we bought in the shiny bag with the bold graphics at Home Depot was from Pennington Seed. It was impregnated with some kind of fungicide, of all things, that the bag said SHOULD NOT BE USED CLOSE TO FOOD CROPS. Who would want to plant this killer grass ANYWHERE NEAR where humans are going to be?

So as soon as we realized what we had done, I used Tractor to build a rain bar of topsoil between the grass areas and our veg garden, brooding as I did about the cavalier attitude we humans have developed about soaking things in chemicals. Yes, we’ve learned our lesson about reading bags of seed we’re about to buy, but honestly, why should we have to? Why shouldn’t a bag that says “grass seed” be required to have only grass seed? If it’s grass seed soaked in poison, why shouldn’t it be required to be billed as “grass seed soaked in poison”?

Our experience has taught us a general rule: Don’t buy stuff to grow from companies whose names you see advertised; it’s probably poisoned in some way and almost certainly overpriced.

We’re heading down to the farm this morning on our way to Auburn to see Joe and Michelle and see Daniel Tosh, Joe’s boss on Tosh.0, on one of his tour stops. While we’re at the farm, we’ll take a picture af the grassy areas and share it with you.

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