Floods to Fruit at Erickson Ranch 2017
This is by far the most difficult blog I have had to write. I must also say it has taken a bit of time to absorb the scope of what the winter storms brought our way and only time heals to allow me to be able to put it in writing. Erickson Ranch experienced a disaster the winter of 2017 like nothing we have ever seen. As we all know, in northern California, the rains in February of this past winter created havoc for everyone. The seemingly never-ending rain brought flood waters that have not been witnessed for years. A combination of events at 2482 Cordelia Road created the compromise of our levee with a 40-foot break.
Ray awakened at 3 am to torrential rains the morning of February 8th. The water was up to the bottom step of our home and, though it was pitch black outside, the sound of rushing water, as well as three feet of flowing water past our home and into the out-buildings, made it clear to him this was no ordinary winter storm. He said to me, “It is flooding outside.” It had flooded in the past, and as I was on the way to work, I figured it would subside at days end. Little did we know the scope of the disaster. As the light of day appeared the horrid reality of what had occurred the night before became terribly clear.
With any disaster brought upon us from Mother Nature, the human being is often helpless and must wait until the damage has completed its course, to be able to collect themselves and move forward. It is ever so difficult to explain our disaster and never has the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, been more appropriate.
As the river, created by the levee break, flowed thunderously throughout orchards and fields with 3 feet of silt and debris laden rushing water it not only compromised our trees but also destroyed homes on Thomasson Lane beyond our property. My heart and soul ached for the destruction the flood waters brought upon on our close neighbors.
As I mentioned earlier, a combination of events caused this catastrophe. The continual torrential rains, the inability of the land owner to be allowed to clear their streams as a preventative measure for flooding, and the clearing of the creek north of us as it flooded Hwy 80 sending the debris downstream Suisun Creek which flows past the Ranch. Due to the extreme rains, numerous large trees fell across the creek creating the beginning of a dam.
The destruction is like nothing we have ever witnessed on our property. The amount of debris left from the flooding water consisted of enormous trees, boulders, and silt that was 3 feet thick when the rain subsided. In the past, people often discarded unwanted items in the creeks. With the torrential power of the flood, we were amazed at the number of delicate, intact bottles we found. As the ranch is going on 4 generations, we will add the new bottles to our historic collection.
Our small flooded community came together to determine which direction to go. All were in shock but pulled together to form a plan. Many thanks go to newly elected District Supervisor, Monica Brown, for being the glue that helped us stick together at a very difficult time. She listened to our pleas of help and corralled the Solano County, Solano County Water Agency and Kinder-Morgan together to repair the broken levee and open the dam allowing Suisun Creek to flow again.
The levee is the responsibility of the landowner property, and therefore to be repaired by that owner. We found it interesting that the creek on our property is not our responsibility but the levee is. Years ago the landowner cleared the creek to prevent the exact disaster that occurred in the winter of 2017, but due to the powers that be, the landowner is no longer allowed to clear their creek. Due to the inability to take “responsibility” for our creek, and the tremendous rainfall this year, we were headed for a disaster and it certainly found us. Erickson Ranch once again cannot thank Monica Brown enough, Superintendent for Solano County, for bringing us up from disaster.
As farmers, there is no choice but to look forward to the upcoming season and make the best of a terrible situation. Due to the continued rain and the extended time it took for the fields to dry, the ability to work up the land was delayed. Tomatoes and peppers are in though a bit late. Due to the wet spring, spraying of the fruit trees was also hampered. Needless to say, we lost many fruit trees as they don’t like their “feet” wet for too long as it prevents root growth and the uptake of nutrients necessary for growth and fruit production.
Jump forward to opening day June 17th,2017. Opening with our Blenheim Apricots and jam. Though our crop of Blenheim’s was by far smaller than usual, they certainly did not lack flavor. Many thanks to our lovely customers for having faith and making the start of this rough season well worth it.
This is by far the most difficult season we have had to learn to accept and move forward. As a small, four generation family farm, we must look at what the future holds for us in the state of California, and how we can continue to survive. The process continues.
We will be open on the weekends throughout the season with our ranch-grown fruit and vegetables. Our season will be slower starting than usual because our product is grown on site. The Regina peaches have been here for going on two weeks and the next variety, Sun Crest, will be picked soon. (peaches #4)
Be well assured that we will always have jams for tasting and to purchase every weekend. To make a purchase of jams online visit www.ericksonranch.com/store.
We do several events outside the ranch during the season with jam tasting and sales. Be sure to visit our website, www.ericksonranch.com for a list of upcoming events.
Once again, we cannot thank our customers enough for supporting us through “good times and bad”. That is the motto of having a boss like Mother Nature. She determines what direction we go.