August Farmer Notes

Farmer Notes

Nothing but clear, blue skies here as July winds down and we welcome August.  This was as nice of a July as any, in my estimation, with long sunlight, temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s, light winds and NO smoke to speak of.  Some birds (quail, robins) are having their second clutches and these are already fledging.  Many young bluebirds, swallows, and wrens are  experienced fliers now, and some have left their nests for good.  One evening earlier in July we sat on our lawn and watched as new swallows tested out their wings and learned to take a few beats before gliding out to test their new world out that fast!  It was pure joy to watch.  I could almost feel their tentative curiosity and their exuberant thrill.

I mentioned July was the month when things really began to grow.  Truth to tell, our einkorn crop  at the home field here went from early 3-leaf stage and only about a foot tall, to an honest 4 feet tall in 3 week’s time.  Now the einkorn tosses, curves and dances in the evening breeze almost snake-like. The slender heads are all filled and lengthened out and just now are beginning to turn color.  The crop acts like it has been this way for months: Tall, proud, flush and strong… when in real time, it all has happened in less than a month.

Now the long summer sun is beginning the hardening and curing of the young kernels.  What this means is that what we call the “milk stage” of the einkorn seeds start to morph into the “soft dough” stage in a couple weeks time.  Then as the sun continues to work each day, that soft dough begins to harden and the kernels take shape.  For harvest, we like the grain cured and dried down to under 12 percent moisture – ideally right around 10 percent. This ensures easier threshing and definitely ensures longer-term storage.  This whole period – from milk stage to fully cured – takes about a month most years.  Which means our harvest for the einkorn up here will likely be at the end of August.  If we end up having real hot temperatures, as we can in August, it may be a little sooner.

South of here, Brad is well into his harvest and has threshed the Sonora soft white wheat, and is now into the hard white and red.  By the time that is finished, he will be harvesting his share of the einkorn.  Some of those grains he planted almost 2 months ahead of ours however, our grains began to really catch up this month and our harvest time will only be about a month different than his.  Nature.  Always amazing.

Out on the prairie, the wild emmer is beginning to cure as well.  That crop looks like excellent quality and will be coming off in about a month like our einkorn.  We all like to guess before harvest what the crops will yield and what their quality will be and how the soils fared and all that sort of thing.  However, until the grain is “in the bins” we really will not know how we did.  I think we will have good to very good crops this year.  I will not know for at least another month.  What we really judge our success on is customer feedback and ideally, customer satisfaction.

As we spend time still processing and milling to order last year’s crops, we are making room for this years’.  It sometimes stops me how fast a year’s cycle can go by.  One minute I think:  Boy, it has been a long time since the last harvest yet another minute I can’t believe we are already getting into harvest again!  “The seasons they go round and round and the painted ponies go up and down” and before long, some birds will have already left for the summer.  And fall field work will be upon us…

Hold on.  Lots of summer left here.  In fact, last I checked another full summer month and then some.   I hope many of you are out and about in the mountains and streams and fields enjoying this time of year.  For the most part, we are.  That said, we remain somewhat heavy-hearted as we lost a couple friends this past month – one older and sadly one far too young.  I would not feel right without mentioning our long time friend John Hayes, and all the fun times we had together over the years and I want to acknowledge all that he did for our Valley here in a variety of ways.  His sometimes wonky work will be realized and enjoyed for generations to come.  As well, we are most sorrowful for the loss of Kierra  Reichert who we had the joy of watching grow up alongside our daughter Mariah and many others.  Over the years, Kierra spent various times  at our home and she will always remain a young, curious, bright light long after her sudden death.  We will look for you in both dawn’s first light and the evening’s last sunlit clouds because we know you are there making it all the more precious.

Hold tight.

Farmer Sam

Einkorn pollinating.