Mother Nature is perfect in every way. I’ve often said: Maybe we don’t understand her actions but they are necessary and perfect. Lo…I’m still scratching my head about that end-of-January Robin? Since our last newsletter went out, the Methow has received nearly 4 feet of snow. Once again, a generally quiet month – February – couldn’t have been any more active. In a month’s time our snowpack has pushed above average, we’ve given the snow blower and plow a steady work out around the granary here along with the shovels, and still have had time for a few powdery runs on the Butte! I’m not alone in surprise that the two wettest months of the last 12 have now been last September and this February. Neither are generally big precip months. Okay – go figure.
So I remain ever more perplexed by that robin I saw January 30th. Our feeder now is busier than ever, but not so much with spring birds as with birds that previously were able to peck and scratch and bud elsewhere until the steady snows hit. Sapsuckers; nuthatches; grosbeaks now join the winter-long chickadee and finches. February not only secured our water supply for another year, but it bought this farmer more time as, what looked surely to be an early spring, is now shaping up to be a later one. Fine by me; we were busy enough with snow removal and meeting our reluctant freight trucks that grew very shy of the Rendezvous. We’ve had no time for seed selection and hardly much time for spring planning.
Alas, the sun is reaching higher and daylight is fairly an even 12 hours. Although the mercury sat at 10 FH this morning, the sun and longer days of March will soon go to work on the snow. Hopefully, the early frozen ground will mellow some now, and when the snow begins to melt we’ll have some good absorption. Having a late and dry fall, followed by below zero temps. sometimes can seal the ground.
This month we will get to selecting that seed stock! This month I will be contacting our crop advisor and laying out a spring plan. My guess is we’ll be on some fields if not by the next newsletter, by mid-April. Meanwhile, we’re pleased with the run of grains we’ve been into most all winter. Consistent cleaning makes consistent milling and orders have been lively enough so that we’re sending out lots of fresh product every week. Though we do not farm in the winter, we get to taste the farm year every week while milling our grains. This is yet another attribute to growing our own products. Not only do we get to see how we did in the field, but we are never too far from the soil in this regard. Whenever we open the lid on a barrel of our fresh-run emmer, and take in that sweet, nutty aroma, one can easily drift back to the ripening August sun and the turning-blonde grain heavy with Mother’s goodies.
When customers drop by during our open houses and we step into the granary, often I hear them remark: Oh, it smells good in here! Reminds me of my grandfather’s, or Uncles, or some other fond memory of farms and grains. It is a sanctifying comment and one I treasure. It is a spoken compliment to us and our staff here. It makes us feel good to know our customers and share our “space.” Every farm should be happy to have visitors and be glad the visitors are curious about their food.
After being guests at the Nevada Small Farms Conference this past month, where there is precious little snowpack again this year, Brooke and I drove back to the Methow in another blizzard – tired yes, but also gleeful. We are fortunate here in the Cascades to have the beauty and water, once again. We are so fortunate to call this Valley our home and to have such wonderful customers here and elsewhere. Leaving town, sometimes, can drive home the fact of how good we have it.
And so when all this lovely white turns to muck and the Rendezvous transforms into a “monster truck” track and the spring winds begin to kick, we’ll remember the farmers in Nevada and California who will not have the moisture to farm this year. We’ll remember that, without water no plant can truly thrive. It was a pleasure to meet and talk to farmers in a completely different paradigm. For their sake, I hope the March snows come.
Enjoy the Ides of the mighty month of March! As much could easily transform this month as it did last. Thank you winter for staying around. I know by next month it will be goodbye to you for another year…
Yours, Farmer Sam