When it rains, fish will appear, part 4

Door San Daniel gepubliceerd in Verhalen en Poëzie


It was warm and the ground showed cracks because of the drought that had reigned for months and the leaves of the olives were drawn together pointing upwards from thirst. I walked up the first field to the balsa, a tank that kept 40 cubic meters of water, it was buried and fed by an asequia, a stone trench that ran miles through the country and brought the water pouring into the tank and filling it up within 10 minutes when I'd open the water gate. Three hundred farmers had raised money in a gray past and had an outfit drill for water. They 'hit' a subterranean lake and the artificial funnel-shaped lake that lay around the borehole filled up and a trench was placed running downhill to the farms. That seemed great .. but .. just like with so many good plans in Spain.. things did not go well. We have that on the by in Spain.


The 'regantes', those who irrigate, had not kept the law in mind and the well of my farm had dried up, they had been reprehensible, you were not allowed to put a well within a hundred meters of another and they had dried my well and wells of neighbors up. Wells that tapped water from an underground river, one of the rivers that in all likelihood fed the underground lake .. Then as a newly established group of regantes you have a problem. The problem you caused can not be reversed. Subterranean pressure and natural forces are so great that the damage you have caused is of a lasting nature. It had led to endless meetings, and although those had been accompanied by a lot of land wine, the victims remained steadfast. That was not surprising, my farm had a heavy diesel pump that not only filled the balsa but through 90 mm hoses flooded fields up to 80 meters high, drawing the water from my own well.


In the early spring, the mountain slopes changed color its plateaus turned pink of the blossom of the flowering almond trees. The region had traditionally only known three products, olives and almonds and grapes. Products that had a staggered harvest, The almonds, were first in August. The outer peel of the fruit would open up through the sun and you knew it was time to harvest. You cut the grass around the trees and spread a net. Then you hit the trunk with a hefty stick and the tree would  rain empty on the net. You then emptied it into crates and dragged the net to the next tree.


Grapes were harvested from the middle of September, before the first rain, otherwise they might become affected by rotting diseases. Once they were picked you had to bruise and press them. The juice then went into the barrels and without human intervention, the yeast spontaneously started its beneficial work within a few hours. Yeast particels are always about and floating through the air and attaching themselves to fruits. In colder, more Northern countries you needed a yeast starter, but our country was blessed with its climate and the sugars combined with the yeast particles of the grape skins cause the barrels to whirl and ferment within a few hours .. Then the doors of the bodega close to be reopened only after 6 weeks. Just as with bread rising, known by the bakers among us, the process is disturbed by wind gusts or movements of air. Therefore the door remains closed.


The olive harvest began from the end of November until February, and then the trees were pruned and it was time to cut back and to cut or clone the grapes, because by March they would return from their dormant state and soon leaves form followed by miniscule bunches. The other months were the months of maintenance and irrigation and taking care of the fruit trees so that you were never devoid of figs, peaches, pears or apples. It was a nice life.

All those beautiful crops were now in danger because of the unfortunate action of the  farmer's collective that had disrupted our water management.

Well, when the time is ripe, advice comes, and that counsel brought a solution, the victims, us, got water rights and became preferential with our farms. As the first we had the right to irrigate whenever we wanted and so a threatening lawsuit with claims and compensation was canceled and everyone was more or less happy and peace returned to our village.


I had read about drip irrigation on the internet and I had bought rolls of irrigation hoses. They came in rolls of 100 meters, they had a10 years guarantee and difficult to handle. I laid it out over the fields that I could not submerge in a natural way and only where a tree was planted, I'd punch a hole in the hose and push an 'arrow link' into the hose and attach a thinner tube to the tree.

It had taken years, but then water management was under control and I could plant whatever I wanted on the top fields. It was hard work and I had done  everything  by hand. I bought a heavy pump and vented it and started it up. The pump had a hose in the balsa and on the other side the water was  forced into the network.

It did not work to my horror, the lower fields were irrigated and that was magnificent because the water was now only where it was needed and there was therefore no need to mow those anymore, but for the higher fields the pump had insufficient reach.


No neighbor had come up with a similar solution, and there was no one I could turn to for advice. I walked around a lot and closed taps here and elsewhere I opened parts of the pipeline with connecting taps and then I understood that there was a better solution. I bought a storage tank of 2000 liters and got it with some difficulty in its place next to the balsa. I had rolled it after it came off the trailer up the slope to the first field. With a submersible pump I filled the barrel and at the bottom of the barrel I connected with a lot of tampering a bypas to the heavy pump that used to have to pump up the water and then push it. Water has a specific mass (in the past we said: specific density) of 62.4 pounds per cubic foot. 2000 liters now pushes against the pump, which no longer needed to suck it up, but only needed to push the water on.

I realized that I had made a pressure vessel and was proud of the idea that had been born, while enjoying some wine.

Did it work? Yes, boy did it work! Now the trick was to make sure that there was a balance between the submersible pump that filled the tank and the centrifugal pump that emptied the drum and pumped the water. That balance was discovered experimentally with an intermediate tap. My old physics teacher would have kissed me and he would have danced for joy.


There I stood and looked out over the fields and a love filled me for my surroundings. My beautiful Andalusia! Dreamland of rugged splendor. I started the pump, opened the tap of the barrel and let the water first pump tothe highest field and from there it ended up exactly without any waste at every tree. Now you only needed to walk along the water lines to see if an arrow sprinkler was not blocked or calcified, because then the planted tree would still dry out. Management is always checking what you expect to happen and fix whatever goes wrong.

After three quarters of an hour, eight fields were 'saved' from the scourge of the drought. The balsa now flowed to its lowest point and the underlying fields would be inundated. Submerged like the wadis in Indonesia. I lowered the gate and saw that it was time to go to the village to take Chris to the residencia where his mother was staying now.

At the snake-bend two crushed snakes lay crushed at the side of the road, 'unimaginable, how many snakes are there in the area' I thought and I drove to the bridge and took the sharp bend to the left and then the cuesta de la mina to town. Eventually the old diesel in her first gear overtook the steep hilland I drove past the first houses into the village.

I saw Chris from afar, he was waiting, stoically, and he got up when he recognized the old jalopy. He jumped up and walked to the old diesel. "Hola San," he said, "do you want coffee first or are we going to my mother right away?" 'Hola amigo mío,' I replied, 'what do you prefer?' "To my mother," was the sober answer. "Just get in," I laughed, "the coffee will come later." He got in and the smell of tobacco came out of his pores. "Chris, not for nothing," I began, "but I'd rather have you not smoke in my car." 'Tu manda,' 'you decide things,' he said, and he squeezed his cigarette and we left the village, towards Macael.

also read part 5

San Daniel 2019

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01/01/2019 18:58

Reacties (1) 

02/01/2019 02:55
U bent niet ingelogd. Wilt u nu inloggen of een account aanmaken?
Nice! Je Engelse tekst is net zo mooi geschreven als je Nederlands schrijven. Het Nederlandse leest voor mij iets makkelijker.;-)

Gelukkig, gezond en een succesvol 2019 gewenst!
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