After five days of flooding, we don’t know for sure when we’ll be able to return to Rogue Farms in Independence, Oregon.
The Willamette River is 11 feet higher than normal and rushing flood waters from the river has blocked the only road leading into the farm. The National Weather Service says the river will stay high for a few more days. Our best guess for now is that we’ll be able to return on Thursday.
One of the questions we’re getting is if the floods will affect our crops, especially our 42 acres of hops. The last time it flooded like this we had a really good harvest. Hops need moisture this time of year. And since 2013 was the driest year ever for us, they probably appreciate all this water even more. So while we’re optimistic we also know that we remain at the mercy of Mother Nature.
One of our farms hands volunteered to stay behind to watch over the Free Range Chicks, Royal Palm Turkeys, Potbellied Pigs and Honeybees. The animals were never in danger because we keep them on high ground near the Hop ‘N’ Bed. But we feel better knowing that someone is keeping an eye on them.
Just up the road, our neighbor’s hazelnut orchard is buried under five feet of water. Two years ago the water got so high that beavers came out of the river to eat his hazelnut trees! So far, no beavers this time around.
Our experience this week at Rogue Farms is nothing new. Oregon’s pioneer farmers who first planted hops here 150 years ago learned to adapt to ways of the Willamette River, as did Native Americans before them. Winter flooding is part of a centuries old natural cycle that restores the soil where we grow our hops, rye, pumpkins, marionberries, jalapeños and honey. Farming comes with risks, and flooding is one we were happy to accept because it created the very land where we grow the proprietary palate of flavors that Brewmaster John Maier uses to create world class beer and spirits.
We hope you’ll come visit us at Rogue Farms when the road is finally open. Please call 503-838-9813 for the latest information.