We all know much can change from month to month. Here in the Methow following as nice of a June/July as I can recall, August arrived with our first wildfires of the year. The good news: fires held off until August this year! The bad: the West is stuck in this seemingly endless annual fire cycle. And it’s not as bad up here the Northwest as in ravaged California.
Yes, this all affects our weather. Yes, the weather affects agriculture. Yes, these both affect the birds! This past Sunday morning I woke to the voice of a chickadee. I’d not heard a chickadee in a long while. Since it was one of the few mornings all month when the air was relatively not smoky, I had coffee on the porch and soon heard a meadowlark. Just the other day I watched a number of bluebird young dance and splash in the birdbath. And the swallows have gathered and gone. That fast, the waning of summer is upon us.
What troubles me much as anything, however, is while on a dog-walk that Sunday morning I came across a fledgling yellow warbler, alone on the roadside and unable to move. Its bright yellow chest heaved as the bird tried to nestle its head back into its downy shoulder when the dogs and I approached. What had happened I’ve no idea? I was reminded of a line from one of my favorite poets and fellow bird hunter, Jim Harrison. In the poem he’s summer driving across eastern Montana and hits a young meadowlark: “Everywhere we go we do harm…”
When the dogs and I returned baby meadowlark no longer struggled.
Although weeks on end of smoke and nearby fire can sure drum up the gloom spooks, I began harvest mid-month just the same. And our first field of emmer was in excellent shape and ran a strong 15% above average on yield. As did our field of einka. Both gave the Gleaner a heavy work out, and I managed to have a few mechanical hiccups but all is clear for the time being and I’ve moved onto our fall rye, and just finished our winter wheat crop we planted for seed-stock. Alas, another unexpected change came in: Rain showers!! And temps. below 70! I’m not sure one could anticipate this for the last week in August – likely the last weekend one would think of for rain– but here we are. A minor hold up on our harvest is more than a fair trade for some cleaner air and a boost for firefighters.
I just moved the combine back down the valley where the majority of our emmer is ripe and waiting. If these fields run anything like our first, we should be in good shape indeed. Good news for Bluebird, and all Bluebird fans!
This whole time the granary has continued to operate and business remained steady through all. Our custom milled flours and fresh grains will continue to give us health I hope, and help us survive the vagaries of Mother Nature who always does what’s best, whether convenient for our humankind or not.
I trust the shortening daylight; cooling nights and stirring air will one day tamp down the fires and clear the air for good as autumn gradually weighs in. Meanwhile, try and enjoy the bounty of the season as it so seems to have been a great growing season above all!
Yours, Farmer Sam
Harvesting Einkorn at Big Valley Ranch