Today we clean our Acequia for the second and final day before we bring through the water. We usually clean the Acequia Madre itself on the first day, but yesterday we actually cleaned our other main ditches known as Acequia del Medio and the Candalaria lateral. The reason we cleaned our acequias in reverse order this year is that we had some old trees fall into the ditch and we had to get some guys in there with chainsaws to buck the logs and get them out of the way before we brought the peones through.
Today we received some more technical assistance from Taos Soil and Water Conservation District. As in previous posts, TSWCD helped us upgrade our main headgate and another diversion structure. Now we are looking at a problematic area on our Acequia Madre that is downcutting and eroding excessively. In many areas the acequia channel is downcut over two feet. So we are looking at possible solutions to the problem that can include creating a series of check dams, stabilizing and compacting the acequia channel, or if worst comes to worst, putting the acequia in a pipe.
We are currently doing the acequia cleaning and TWSCD engineers will have to come back once the acequia is clean and the application is submitted to shoot elevations using a transit so we can get a better idea of specific problem areas. It appears as if the original Acequia Madre was moved many years ago with a backhow, something that should be illegal but something we typically see with ignorant property owners and developers in Taos. Hopefully we can repair this section of acequia efficiently, we have many parciantes (irrigators) downstream of this problem area…
Today we begin cleaning our Acequia Madre del Sur del Río de Don Fernando de Taos. This acequia has been in existence for over 200 years and is probably going through the most challenging time of its life around now with climate change, water quality problems, and infrastructure deterioration. Nevertheless, we were able to get about 20 peones (workers) to help us clean out the ditches of debris so the irrigation season can start!
Our apricot trees started flowering recently. We inherited a wonderful apricot from my grandparents and were able to graft it to make two more trees (we had three, but one of them died.) We got another apricot from Tooley’s Trees several years ago and that is the one you see flowering in the picture above. The trees that have a historical connection to this land seem to be in a more immature stage of flowering, which might indicate more adaptation to the site.
Hopefully we get some apricots this year, it does not seem likely as the nighttime lows consistently reach below freezing. We have ideas of creating structures on the south side of our trees to keep it shaded, covering the trees when they are flowering with some kind of shade cloth or agricultural fabric to protect the flowers (this could risk breaking the branches), and on the newer trees, we buried a large (about 100 lbs) rock under the root ball in hopes of creating an underground thermal mass that might delay flowering. This is a Permaculture technique I learned, one that takes into account that rocks take longer to warm up in the spring than soil so that the tree is fooled into sensing the spring is colder than it really is. As our young trees get older, we may be able to confirm that this technique works…