August Farmer Notes

Farmer Notes

August, month of the full Corn Moon; the Ricing Moon; the Harvest Moon – all names from various Native Americans – has come and nearly gone now.  True to form, August is the peak month for harvest of cereal grains around these parts of eastern Washington, as well as elsewhere.  I was reflecting on various harvests both past and future, as I sipped away waiting on the sun the other morning and listening to the subtle song of the cedar waxwings.  And that of the veery, the mountain bluebird and a spotted towhee, all of which have called our place home this summer.  All of whom sounded shy if not weak in their voice?  August heat:  Hot enough to perhaps silence most birds, but ideal for curing grains.

Brad at Lenwood Farms brought in a very nice crop of Einkorn earlier this month, and we’ve just run the first lot of it on our new hulling and cleaning line!  After much testing and adjusting of the system, we ended up finally getting some very fine finished product that is showing excellent test weight and nutrient levels.  Great work, Brad.  Up on the Waterville plateau Tom has a strong crop of winter hard red wheat that he’s about to cut for us and over on the Okanogan Plateau at Double R Ranch, Chuck is getting closer to taking off the hard white he grew out.  Here in the Methow I was about to move into and thresh our winter rye, when back to back storms rolled through leaving from an inch to two inches of rain!  Wow; quite the surprise.

This is how the summer has played out all along, continuing to run off the 3-4 week delay since the beginning.  We are the most grateful for no nearby fires this year, and NO smokey skies at the moment.  Yes, we’ve had the typical later summer heat and things dried out until, well, the storms.  But still little smoke even after a lot of lightning.  Just now, a cold front is blowing through and today temperatures have dropped to the 70’s and low 80’s and the 25mph winds certainly will dry off the crops.  Ever so slight, the turn toward autumn has begun.  This is all fine by me. 

Our biggest accomplishment at Bluebird this summer is having made the transition to our brand new processing and packaging facility along Highway 20!  We have made the move and are now in 100% operation there.   This move has taken mondo effort from our small crew and my hat is off to all involved.  We’ve run every grain through the system and now are confident we will be cranking out just as good, and in most instances even better quality goods than we have been.  With our new line, we will be at much higher capacity and far more efficient.  Good news for all our persistent employees.  They have earned it!  Special thanks to our recent intern Leo Haas who came on board just in time to witness, and help out with, our final start up of the flour mill, and some of the other equipment.  His help and can-do attitude was much appreciated by all.  Hopefully, we didn’t scare him off!

Surrounding the new granary is our 25 acre field where I grew out back-to-back cover crops of early peas and later buckwheat this season. My plan was to follow with winter grains but I may hold off and go back to spring grains instead in 023.  I’ve run through Plan A, B and C and right now sit somewhere in the middle.  Alas, I better decide soon!  Either way, we’ve added back a great boost of available nutrients and so the stage is set come this fall or next spring.

Hard as it seems, school is about to start for K-12, while  many colleges have already begun.  Lots of learning to be done out there and let’s all beware of the increased numbers of kids on the street.  Drivers, slow down – my annual reminder! Students – sit up straight in class you younguns’!  Ha, but  if you can’t sit still, well, studying the changing landscape as the shadows deepen with the tilting daylight and the hills grow quiet isn’t a bad alternative.  There may be plenty to study in the classroom, but there is just as much to study outside.

Observe, eat well and enjoy the fruits from this final of summer months…

Yours, Farmer Sam

Holding freshly cleaned Einkorn Berries