What About Irrigation

Barn and Cabin

Black Dirt

Irrigation was the first question I had about the farm. What you see is a cabin and a barn with a well in front, sans electricity, sewer, or water service.  It is the nostalgic, romantic notion of  farming, without the large house, working draught animals, or farm house. How was irrigation done in the old days?

As it turns out, this particular soil is great at absorbing and retaining moisture. The Black Dirt region of Orange County, NY was the bottom of a lake during the last glacial age. Settlers avoided farming the area as it did not drain well and frequently flooded. In mid-1800’s eastern european immigrants from Poland arrived and recognized the fertile soil and began growing onions.

If anything, flooding is more of a concern for the region.  Hurricane Irene 2011 covered the area under at least 4 feet of water, when the Wallkill river overflowed.  Luckily, hurricane Sandy did not inundate the area much in 2012.  Several local names, Pine Island, Big Island, are due to the highlands jutting above the waterline.

Some interesting stories about black dirt in New York State.

http://www.archives.nysed.gov/apt/magazine/archivesmag_summer05.pdf

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/24/dining/24onio.html?_r=0

And the history of storm damage in the area

http://www.townofwarwick.org/departments/hmp_docs/Appendix%20B%20%20s.pdf

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