April Farmer Notes

Farmer Notes

April, the reverse of November, is a month I love almost as much and for many of the same reasons.  Unlike many, I dig “shoulder seasons”… wherever that term came from?  Separated by half a year, November is the going-to-bed month while April is the waking up.  November often goes from crisp and sharp, to drab then white.  April goes from leftover white, to drab then on into brilliance.  What with spring creeks bulging and hillsides greening and early wildflowers popping up by the day… dare I mention birds?  Bluebirds, flycatchers, warblers just today.  Flickers, meadowlarks and a myriad of sparrows that can only be topped by the arrival of the  mighty hummingbirds.  Glory be, ole’ April, don’t shrug me off quite yet!

This April we even had a few showers – both rain and snow.  The slowly transforming month rolled all the way until these last few days.  Freezing nights prevailed, and days remained mostly in the 40’s, some 50’s and just now 60 and 70!  Later than many years, the aspen trees are now beginning to leaf out here along the creek.  One main benefit to this gradual spring has been the measured absorption of moisture.  As I believe I mentioned in March, most of the snowpack has all sunk into the soils and we’ve had very little run off or evaporation.  This is great in this semi-desert climate.  Now, the main river itself is beginning to swell as mountain snows begin to melt to usher in May.

As for farming; somewhat delayed but worth the wait.  I got on the fields a week ago and with some light harrowing and packing, I’ve been able to preserve that moisture a couple inches deep and where I set our seed.   The “old timers”… meaning some of the first white grain farmers here I presume… used to say: Plant grain when the aspen leaf out.  On the home field along highway 20 here I’m going to be planting our black einkorn seed stock for future production.  We’ve worked hard over the years to clean up this particular stock, and look forward to bringing it back into full production to go along with our lighter einkorn variety.   South of here, all our hard red and white spring wheat is planted and up in rows, as is the Sonora soft white wheat and the lighter einkorn.  It looks like the emmer crop will be seeded toward the end of May this season, due to the late spring.  Truth to tell, my heaviest emmer crop ever wasn’t planted until June!  I’ve said many times, Mother Nature always seems to even things out.

Here at the Bluebird granary we continue to do a lot of fine-tuning to our processing equipment, and though this has been on-going since we moved, I like to think it will soon come to an end.  The whole crew has been working on a bunch of details that – perhaps not anticipated in some cases – are vital to sustained operations in the long term.  When we work on processing and flow, whether for our cleaning line, our flour mill, our filling stations or packing, we learn more and more about the equipment we use.  We also are reminded of why it is so important to offer the fresh, well packed dry goods that we’ve built our reputation on.  Kudos to our great staff!

Whole grains mean whole food which means whole earth.  We might not pack up the biology of the soil in the actual “Creepy Crawlies” and microrize, but we like to pack all the nutrients that these balancers create and put this wholesomeness straight into your food.  As always, we look forward to a whole lotta fun upcoming in this next growing season.

Goodbye winter; sad to see you go.  Hello Spring; happy to have you at the door.  The next two months will be full of life, with new changes coming every day.  Here’s to it, and to your good health.  I hope most of you get a chance to get out and enjoy the rich smells and sounds and tastes of the season.  I hope to see you at our May 13th Open House or at The Methow Conservancy first Tuesday event June 6th.

Cheers, Farmer Sam

Sam Lucy, getting the no-till drill all tricked out for planting Einkorn.