Category: Farmer Notes

As fine of a month as this past May was, June might have been even lovelier!  June delivered in a number of ways with shots of moisture, sun and some wind scattered throughout the month.  Never did a day reach 90 degrees.  Here in the semi-desert the cooler, mellow weather of “Junuary” came as a real delight.  Even though this mantra is quickly changing as we head into July, some north slopes remain greenish and streams are just now beginning to settle and clear.  Oh, and did the birds ever love June!    

I may have failed to mention the Wood-Pewee before, but these dandy little birds have made themselves well known around our yard this past month.  Although I recognize them by sight, I’d forgotten their voice – a sweet addition to all the other birdsong that flows each morning now.  Another favorite bird voice of mine is the higher pitched, more subtle Cedar Waxwing.  Both are much quieter than our chatty wrens!

One of the windier evenings I watched a pair of recently fledged Waxwings clinging tight to our apricot tree.  With the most determined of looks they hunkered as gusts tossed about a smaller limb they clung to for dear life.  Indeed.  The next moment they appeared scared to let go not knowing, perhaps, where they’d end up?  My guess is every new day comes fraught with fears for them  – for all wildlife actually.  This simply is another reminder of how fragile and resilient Nature is all at once.

True to form, June was a great month for growing.  With the moderate temperatures and full on Solstice daylight, plants seemed to take off big time.  Here at the farm our companion crop of peas and einkorn shot up and grew two feet in about a week.  Not surprisingly the einkorn out grew the peas and now when we look out at the four foot high einkorn dancing in the breeze, no blossoming peas can even be sighted !  They are down there, however, and adding nitrogen to the grain.

I did irrigate some in June, but all our supplemental water is off for the summer as the grain is full and needs to begin the curing process.  We used a total of about five inches of supplemental water, out of our water right that has a designation of 48”.  Under our more Regenerative farm system and growing less water intensive crops, we use about 75% less water than surrounding farms.  This keeps more water here in our basin, and gives more to the fish and otherwise.  More, too I suppose, for other farmers.  But less compaction for our own fields.  As I’ve mentioned before, water is a leading cause of soil compaction world-wide.  Flooding; heavy storms; supplemental irrigation – over watering is at the head of the compaction line.  Too much of a good thing?  Maybe.  Backwards “water-law”  drives this; a topic for another month.

Update on Farm Bill:  No real change as it remains mired in partisan politics.  Remember this is a $1.5 TRILLION spending package we will all be paying for.  One recent version harbors a particularly nefarious rider, as so many bills do.  This one – folded into the horticultural part of the bill approved by the House Agriculture Committee – essentially is a “get out of jail free” card for Bayer Crop Sciences and other chemical companies.  If passed, it grants Bayer legal immunity for all Roundup lawsuits – originally filed against Monsanto before the buy-out.  If passed, those that have filed suits against the chemical giant would now have to do so all over again with little if any chance of finding settlement.  The EPA sticker on the label claims Roundup is “safe.”  Therefore chemical companies would not be held liable for any health issues.  We can only hope clearer minds prevail, and this FB version will not advance.

Not to worry about any of this if you purchase organic, and organic grains from Bluebird in particular!  We’ve been certified organic since the very beginning.  Our farmers, including myself, have all been certified growers for more than 25 years.  And we’ve done so with few, if any, government subsidies.  As “they say” in politics it is a “win-win” for consumers.

July in Eastern Washington is awash in bright light, clear skies, and hot temperatures.  This is the weather that sets the finishing stages for so many different fruits and grains here.  With cereal grains finishing their growth and heading out and pollinating; hot July weather forces plants to reach for the sugars and bring nutrients up to the fruit, be it actual fruit like cherries, apricots, peaches, or grain kernels.  These sugars develop into protein.  These proteins and minerals add up to flavor! 

Our grain is in full pollination.  As I look out the farm office window and watch the tall einkorn sway in the wind like a river, I think of all the thousands of years this wild food has done what it still does today.  We feel most fortunate to work with this grain, and to be able to bring it to fruition by hulling it and screening it into plump kernels, and milling these kernels into aromatic whole grain flour for you.

As we near the 250 year mark of old glory – now just a year or two  away – I feel so indebted to our ancestors and their fight for our independence.  As broken as this country can feel at times, we still have amazing resources, ingenuity, and perseverance.  By and large, we are a food independent nation.  Of our many strengths this, perhaps, is our greatest.  We have enough land to sustain our population indefinitely, if we can just get back to more sustainable and diverse production practices.  Choose good food for the good of your health, and for the good our country!  

Cheers,

Farmer Sam

American Flag at Bluebird Grain Farms

May oh May… a more delightful May than this years’ I can’t imagine.  A few days in the 70’s and  80’s; a few valley rain showers and snow squalls in the mountains; wind and calm, then temps in the 30’s as we leave the month behind.  Quite the variety of weather, alright.  That is what makes Spring here so fun.  Lest I forget the birds!  Chats and buntings; swallows and wrens; orioles and tanagers…  Truth to tell, I could sit all day and watch and listen.

Alas, that would not be of much help to our wonderful crew here at Bluebird Grain Farms.  They’ve been working hard at keeping our systems running smoothly, and shipping out orders nationwide from our little valley.  Our supply of organic grain remains solid as we enter the last quarter before harvest, and we are having a good year entering the final month of the 2024’s front half.  Nothing makes me happier than to hear good things about our grains and flours from a whole host of different customers.  The real kudos go out to all of you who take an interest in food, how it is grown and where it comes from.  Thank you!

All of this year’s crops are planted and growing right along.  The northern prairies have received nice rains, our partners report.  The earlier planted crops here in the Columbia Basin at Brad’s Lenwood Farms are a foot tall now, and cover crops at our own farm are beginning to stretch up toward the gathering daylight.  Wow.  Can we be just 3 weeks from Summer Solstice!  Plants really kick into gear come this time of the year.  Let the sweet, rich juices of June flow.  

Yes, we could use more rain here.  In the past, the month of June often delivered.  The longer we get into the summer months without excessive heat, the longer we can hold off drought if the days are just cooler and cloudier.  Once crops reach a certain growth stage – grain knee high – then the plants themselves harbor moisture and protect the soils.  This is one reason we love the ancient wheats because they grow so tall, and create a shade effect that preserves moisture in their roots.  This function is not dissimilar to trees, albeit on a much smaller scale.  Soil preservation, high organic matter, nutritious food – these are just some of reasons to celebrate the wheats that once were.  

But we’ve brought them back!  We have been touting these qualities for nearly 20 years now and it is exciting to see continued  interest and rising popularity of these time-tested grains.  Their attributes and versatility both agronomically and culinarily continue to engage and teach us as years go by.  I’m guessing this does not change anytime soon.  To quote William Faulkner: “The past is never dead, it’s not even past.”

Our job hasn’t changed either, and that is seeing to it that all of you get these ancient grains freshly delivered on a consistent basis.  This is one way we can improve on our food systems that still remain flawed.  Currently, the FDA and USDA continue to try and sort out the recent Avian Flu mess that is a self-fulfilled prophecy, of sorts, as I mentioned last month.  Feeding our animals the wrong diet – turning herbivores into carnivores – is not sustainable.  Over 4 million laying hens alone have been destroyed and disposed of…  How?  Where?  Will the dairy herds be next?  Yuck.

In related news, remember the Farm Bill?  The last one expired in September of 2023.  I mentioned in last fall’s Notes how we would not see a new bill before the end of the year.  The question is now: Will we see one before the end of this year?  In a lot of ways this delay may be a good thing since it has morphed into a piece of broken and partisen farming legislation.   However, very crucial programs such as SNAP still hang in the balance.  Not so good.

We enjoyed a nice Memorial weekend granary tour here at the Farm.  It is always engaging for Brooke and myself to see new faces, meet new people, have new discussions and teach and learn all at once.  During the whole weekend I kept in mind what the past “holiday” really is about and that is to honor and memorialize those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this great nation of ours.  Yes, it is a great country.  Democracy is far, far from perfect and remains a constant work in progress.  However, I’ll still take it every day.

Here’s to health, decency and peace for the coming summer.

Yours,

Farmer Sam

Well it hasn’t been a very quiet week, or month, here at Bluebird Grain Farms.  We welcome back the wrens, the warblers, bluebirds, finches, ducks, geese while balsamroot and lupine bloom across the foothills.  April’s full “Pink Moon” brought out the coyotes as the voice of spring frogs drifted from nearby vernal pools.  As I jot these notes here at the end of April, heavy clouds hang about the sky and one good downpour has just finished.  We will take another just like it!  April showers…

Both the flour mill and the grain cleaning line have been humming right along as a variety of orders ranging from 1 ton totes down to 1 pound bags leave the granary daily.  This spring bustle has likely been brought on by a series of things as overall grain supplies can become lean with the 2023 harvest well in the past.  Not everyone can plan precisely for annual needs; this goes for both consumers and suppliers alike and Bluebird often sees an uptick of interest in our own supply.  Sometimes we end up servicing new customers due to shortages elsewhere.  Sometimes a few of these customers become long-timers!

Consumer and supplier; concerns over this relationship have only grown as America’s subsidized food system once more appears to be flailing.  Most recently, the Avian Flu outbreak has reared up again and this time is spreading first to dairy cows, then to the milk itself. Now, the meat supply chain is suspect.  Probable cause: Cows (ungulates) being fed chicken byproduct. Carcass scraps are ground and mixed in with various other surplus, cheap feeds (byproduct). Hmmm.

Mentioning cows, the West  faces another season of drought in many regions.  Biggest water users? Cows.  Eighty percent of western water goes to thirsty livestock crops such as alfalfa.  Meanwhile, Bayer Crop Sciences after making a horrible decision to acquire Monsanto just before all the glyphosate (Round Up) lawsuits hit, now wants the government’s and yes, your sympathy?  They are pushing back against 100’s of lawsuits brought on by inadequate warning labels, and users themselves that have fallen ill with cancer.  Glyphosate is one chemical that is used on much of the nation’s croplands.  Although these things may seem distant from Bluebird Grain Farms, in large they drive what we do.

In last month’s notes I mentioned visiting our friends the Schmaltz family on their 5,000 acre organic farm in North Dakota. One might think there isn’t much farming to see in early March on the northern prairie, yet on a healthy farm such as the Schmaltz’s there are all kinds of things to see.  Despite being a snowless and dry winter there – what locals call an open  winter – just before we arrived it snowed 4-5 inches.  Our first morning following an emmer pancake breakfast, we bundled up and left Blaine and Suzie’s cozy farm house for some of their fields.  Along their boundaries  were neighboring operations that the Ag industry calls “conventional farms”.

That fast, we noticed that the adjacent fields, most fall tilled, had already lost the new snow.  (Sometimes it’s windy in North Dakota!)  Next, we noticed the snow had all lodged up in Blaine’s fields full of emmer stalks, sunflower stalks, cornstalks.  Because he has been working for years toward minimal till and full scale Regenerative Agriculture, the Schmaltz’s farm is now working for itself on a variety of levels.  Here, it was working for critical moisture and it really didn’t even have to work!

emmer stalks

Stalks of harvest Emmer wheat are intentionally left in the ground                         to hold critical moisture and collect snow.

By leaving the grain stalks standing tall from his combine’s stipper header, not only was blowing snow sequestered here, but the soil itself was sheltered from the cold and the ground hadn’t frozen as deep.  Microbial activity in the soil was allowed to continue year-round even in this harshest of climates.  Crop residue, and the consequential breakdown thereof builds soil biology.  Biologically active soils promote nutrient cycling and give crops available nutrients.  Nutrient dense crops give us nutrient-dense food.  Moisture sink, carbon sink, biology sink all equal nutrient sink.  Nutrient sink equals taste.  Let us not forget an important reason we like food!

What’s more, out on the Schmaltz’s farm this year-round crop recycling mimics natural grasslands, and what the prairie must have been like before it was farmed. Protected soils warm up earlier in the spring than those left tilled.  Spring planting and subsequent growth can thus begin earlier than on the bare soils nearby.  Conversely, in the sticky heat of a hot summer’s day Blaine’s soils are shaded and kept cooler resulting in less evaporation.  All of this plays into the finished crop: It’s health, it’s yields, and ultimately how it stacks up nutritionally.  We are talking about real food grown as close to Nature’s ways as possible.

Brooke, Blaine, and Suzie in North Dakota

Some long-time customers might have worried when I made the gradual transition away from full crop production in our tiny valley here.  We still farm here to a degree, but this productive and resilient farm system played out on a much vaster scale at the Schmaltz farm is how and where Bluebird emmer is now grown.  We feel fortunate indeed and think it is reason to celebrate.  This is not only a celebration of a healthy farm system and consistent supply of top grade emmer, but of long term and sustainable human relationships as well.  Producer/Processor.  Supplier/Consumer.  All of which is truly a celebration and appreciation of the Earth itself.

So nothing really has changed here at Bluebird.  When you receive your grains from us, you can rest assured we still have health in mind as we have from the very beginning, of both people and the land.

Hello May.  Full on planting season!  With the growing daylight and heating degree days, the growing season begins as the soils soften and the earth comes alive.  Here’s to your health,

Yours,

Farmer Sam

Spring, spring, and more spring!  We knew it was early this year, and all the signs of that reality have been at play these past couple of weeks leading up to April.  Bluebells on the bare hillsides, bluebirds flitting in the sage.  Yellow bells on the hillsides, the yellow throat of the Meadowlark singing that timeless spring song.  Robins gorge after a wonderful late March rain, and new snow is caught up on the mountains as the northwest winds kick down the valley.  Canada-bound geese shift high overhead.  Three days of 70 degrees then nights fell back to the 20’s as snow showers dust the valley floor.  Springtime in the Methow – some say the most glorious of all.

Early fieldwork for any year this spring.  I believe I’ve only farmed here in March one other time in the past 30 years.  This spring I smoothed out last fall’s primary tillage I did on an abandoned neighboring field which I’ve committed to restoring. It felt a little weird to be on the soil before the aspen were budding but the river was on the rise and soil moisture was perfect and when it is time it is time – no matter how early it seems.  This neighbor’s field is just south of Winthrop and one I’d also first farmed, like our field here at Bluebird, soon after I arrived in the Methow 31 years ago!.  It needs a new irrigation system which we are currently developing.  There will not be any supplemental water available this growing season, so I must seed early.  As soon as the soil warms I will sow a rehabilitation crop of hardy triticale and spring pea mix.

The winter peas on the home field are just greening up with the first rain, and most look to have made the winter well.  Most of us, following the lean snowpack, are hoping for a wet spring indeed.

Our grain cleaning line and flour mill have been very steady through the first full quarter of the year here, and this has kept the crew happy.  It is with pleasure that we send out totes and bags of fresh milled flour and grains every day of the week to customers all over as well as right here at home.  Fresh whole grains and flours straight to order – always organic and always top grade – is what keeps Bluebird the gold standard for US-grown ancient whole wheat.  Our customers know this difference and we couldn’t be more grateful to all of you!

Global grain supply can be an interesting subject.  Many of you know that wheat is one of the most commonly grown commodities worldwide.  Since we are a global economy, what happens in one country far away can have a large effect locally.  In this case, I say local to mean the Northwest and to a greater extent our nation.  With recent events in Russia, Ukraine, and Poland, the effect has actually been a downturn in commodity pricing.  This is the first downturn in a while. Combined with an uptick in the cost of production – at least for bigger-scale commercial and generally subsidized farms that rely on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides produced elsewhere – the strain is felt on many farmer’s wallets.  This is where price support, and more importantly tax-subsidized insurance comes into play.  This is what keeps farmers on the fringe, but still growing.  This is a farm system in desperate need of repair.

There is not a shortage of wheat worldwide.  If you aren’t concerned so much about quality or how it is grown, there is enough wheat stored for 2-3 years.  What really hasn’t changed is the fact that only a handful of companies own this supply.  Thus, they set the pricing and so forth, as with most commodities.  What is bothersome is the fact that people are still starving – right in our own country – while this supply in many cases is left untouched.  For the more successful farmers in this game, they sit on the year’s crops and wait for the upturn in prices.  For those that are strapped by debt, they sell at bottom pricing to companies that thrive on low-cost bargains.  This way, they own an even bigger amount of the supply.

In 1979 there was a book written by Washington Post journalist Dan Morgan called The Merchants of Grain.  Fascinating read.  And one that in many cases still pertains to the grain world today.

Alas, breathe deep Bluebird folks… we do not play the pricing game.  We work hard to pay our partners what they deserve, and they work hard to make sure we stay in business.  Relationships are all about relations and this couldn’t have been more demonstrated than when Brooke and I visited our good friends and partners the Schmaltz family last month, on the Northern prairie of North Dakota.  The Schmaltz’s are absolute cornerstones in the Regenerative Farm system.  Their farm largely works for itself now, wherein very little supplemental nutrients are brought in to support their vast crop rotation.  And they love what emmer does for their farm.  I will write more on this in my next notes.  Stay tuned!

Until then, welcome the slow awakening of Spring.  Enjoy the northern lights if you can, and maybe some of the upcoming eclipse.  Both are reasons to celebrate and good reminders of our place in this world.

Yours,

Farmer Sam

The cover crop of winter peas survived the snow.

March…here with all your vagaries of weather. Truth to tell, February seemed like March month-long with robins showing up fast behind the red-winged blackbirds! I can say for certain that I never recall seeing or hearing a robin up here in February. Thank goodness March is here because I’ve seen robins in early March before…and finches and nuthatches and… with delight, we hear the voices of great horned owls, barred owls, and the subtle whistle of the saw-whet owl along the creek bottom both at first light and again at night. All the more prevalent as momentum built toward February’s Full Moon. It’s a hungry world out there come March most every winter. This winter might appear to have been easier than most for a lot of animals and birds however, easy is a relative term as it comes from the human viewpoint.

As robins flit in the fields and pull up the earthworms that love our cover crops, snow squalls hit the mountains. Heavy snow, in fact, has encapsulated the North Cascades as we usher in this mighty and lionish indeed. It is hard not to give up on winter at this point, but the new snow is welcome as the overall snowpack remains behind what we’d like.  his El Nino winter is true to form like no other. Here in the Valley floor even though the snow has been lean winter-long, our soil is well saturated. Of course our traditional spring winds can take a lot of that away but quick!  Ahhh…here I am once more, discussing the safe topic of weather.

At this point it still looks to be an earlier planting season for spring crops. Our winter peas are already in and growing from last fall, but there is another field I may be sowing spring cover peas in as early as April – very soon for this climate.  Both fields will receive another cover crop of buckwheat later in the summer.

Meanwhile our milling and shipping has been lively here at the facility. We jumped the year off to a strong start and as we enter the final month of the first quarter, we remain busy. Our einkorn flour continues as our top flour seller, but the emmer flour is catching up fast!  Between the whole grain emmer pancake mix, and our finely ground emmer flour, volumes are only about 20% behind einkorn flour. Must be the rich, nutty flavor of that wonderful whole grain emmer!  And the fact that Dan mills it fresh to order – a mainstay here at Bluebird Grains since our very beginning.

Brooke and I will be at Chef’s Warehouse for a presentation to start March, then we head to the northern prairies to see dear friends and farm partners the Schmaltz family. We look forward to visiting their large, fully organic/regenerative farm. We missed our fall visit. It has been a lean winter there also, so it may be early planting for them as well.  In the drought winters, or “open winters” –  true regenerative agriculture shines as it preserves moisture and biology in the soils that is easily lost under a more aggressive and chemical based farming trajectory. No surprise; much of the wildlife moves onto their farm where the crop ground goes minimally disturbed, and much of the native habitat is left intact.

Every day it seems, I read more and more about our broken food system. Sad to say, I still read of the illegal use of under-age children being used/abused in some of the meat industry’s – and it is an industry – nastiest jobs. It is disturbing to read of the blanket contamination that herbicides have weighed upon our food systems – most recently chlormequat in small grains that make up a lot of breakfast cereals. With some irony I suppose, just when our government gets pressured to more clearly read the science and deem many herbicides “illegal” as they did this winter with dicamba, they turn around and allow for its use until current supply is gone!  In this country.  And how about “farms” where the crops never see actual soil at all – alive or dead?

As dire as these continued findings remain in this day and age, it is also the reason so many consumers want change, and are leveraging the change to organic, sustainable, non-toxic farm practices with their purse strings. Even the USDA has awakened to the fact that we might have to begin subsidizing better farm practices, albeit on a miniscule level as compared to the subsidizing of Big Ag. I hope I live to see the day this is reversed, and that the farm subsidies (your tax dollars) go more heavily toward soil-building farm practices and healthy food.

Fear not, here at Bluebird Grain Farms we go about our organic business as usual, with respect to our soils, our farms, and our customers every day. This will not change with or without farm subsidies! We are grateful to our partner farms, and we are grateful to all of you. As Spring leans in with the gathering daylight and more heavy storms, think of our giving soils and think of our Mother. It is time to organize seeds to sow!

Here’s to the return of winter, Ha! But we will see you shortly in the Spring.

Yours,

Farmer Sam

I could never have guessed that January would leave us in the same fashion it arrived: Gray, mild, soggy.  This, following our one stretch of sunshine during mid-month when temperatures dropped to 20 below zero!  My goodness, are we in North Dakota all of a sudden?  Or New England? Nope.  Still here in the “Sunny Methow.”  To be taken with a grain or two… our weather leaves little to complain about comparatively, in regards to how it affects the surroundings.  Sure, we’d take a stronger if not prettier snowpack and a lot more sun but we’ve no flooding (yet), no wildfires (yet), and surely no drought (yet!) The roads may be mucky but the ski trails are still good, as is the eating!

Weather is a frequent topic amongst us two-legged folk – often a “safe conversation”.  I wonder if any of the birds or other wildlife ever partake in this sort of chatter?  It seems as though a chickade’s varying song might express a mood, as might a coyote’s yip, or sharp bark or long-drawn howl in the moonlight.  However, since I don’t speak in their tongue I’m left to speculate.  Speculation happens to be a specialty of farmers.  In case you were speculating, this is where I bring my notes back to farming.

Right now, I’m feeling good about our soil’s moisture profile.  Truth to tell, I’m not sure whether or not our winter peas even stopped growing under the snow?  This important cover crop sown early last fall here in the home field, I speculate is simply grooving on this weather.  Come late – April, I’d guess for a thick, lovely crop of lush peas out there as they build back biology and fix available nitrogen.

In my January notes I touched upon the rise of interest in the Regenerative Farming movement.  Regenerative Farming is not new, although some make it sound so.  The term is actually newer than the real practice although the practice itself is becoming continually refined.  One of the long-standing premises of Regen-Ag is the use of continuous cropping and lots of cover legumes.  Although we have a very modern crop cleaning line here in our new granary, once in a while even with all the different screen sizes, air speeds, and pitches of our equipment, fragments of these cover crops make it through to the finished product.  If you happen to notice a broken pea, or a fragment of lentil or even a chipped bean in one of your grain orders – rest assured this is more a shout-out to good farming practices than a result of an inadequate cleaning line.  Cover-cropping and crop rotation for nutrient growth are absolutely real here at Bluebird Grain Farms.  We all embrace this, our crops embrace it and hope all of you will as well.

Yes, our cleaning line has been busy and so has our dang flour mill!  Someone keeps tagging promotions to our website here (Larkin?) and our first month of direct retail has been very busy.  We are grateful, even if it means 3 days of straight milling.  Our miller, Dan, loves consistency.  And his weekly runs of our different flours most of you know are very consistent.  This is one of the reasons our flour performs so well: Consistency, quality, and freshness.  Thanks Dan!

The pancake and baking mixes are quite popular this time of year, also.  As are the hot cereals.  And my favorite dish: Grilled wildfowl served with split emmer or our Potlatch pilaf.  Mmmm… I can not get enough!  This is my idea of comfort food.  Maybe with some lightly sauteed kale and onion, or longer cooked chard as a side.  And a heavy red wine, if so inclined…

I feel that this half-way point of winter here in the more northern latitudes is the defining line between last farm-year, and the one upcoming.  Long enough time has passed and the calendar has turned to a new year and despite cleaning and milling the past year’s crop, one’s mind has already turned to the coming growing season.  Our good friends and partners who are leaders of Regenerative Farming out on the prairie spend a good chunk of their winter in a heated shop working on all kinds of specialized machinery that enable them to farm proficiently in a minimum-till, continuous cropping system.  They have an amazing amount of equipment to maintain, and make sure it is ready to roll when the window opens this spring.  Based on the past year’s sketches, conversations, and jotted-down notes all come out their maintenance and re-fab projects have begun.  In this way, farming indeed goes year-round.  Being a shop monkey isn’t everyone’s gig – myself included – but it sure as heck helps when you want to run a good farm!

Farming is not only labor intensive but often is quite equipment intensive.  This is one of the more challenging parts of farming any sizable amount of acreage.  Most farm implements were invented by farmers, and based on necessity.  As cropping systems change, needs change and thus innovation remains alive and well.  What I love is when you get a brand-new piece of equipment and immediately begin modifying it!  This seems to be more prevalent in the past 20 years or so, as most equipment is now developed by engineers, not farmers.

The use of these large specialized pieces of equipment, one might think results in an excessive amount of resources.  True, the construction of this equipment takes resources, as does the operation.  However, under a Regenerative/Organic farm system, practiced farmers can cut way down on their carbon footprint not just by using less fuel overall, but by sequestering all the carbon in the crops through minimized tillage, and growing their nutritional needs through continuous cropping.  A lot of speculation with this system has come and gone.  These systems are proving to be sustainable and profitable.  Perhaps even more so in this day and age, when it is ever the more important to protect and enhance our soils.

Ode to the clever farmers worldwide.  Ode to our Mother Earth.  She not only feeds us, she keeps our minds speculating!  What more could we ask?

I leave you with my latest speculations: February will be drier here than January.  And Organic Regenerative farming will continue to grow in importance.

Yours,

Farmer Sam

The new year has come in with the same sort of gray mantra as the old went out.  A pall of low clouds, frequent fog, and little snow anchors the countryside.  Some days have seemed more like March than December.  It couldn’t be much more opposite than the new year of last with its deep blue skies, cold nights, and ample powder snow.  What a difference a year can make!  As we slip into 2024, it’s hard to truly know what might lie ahead – weather-wise or otherwise?

One thing that has remained strong is the growing interest in the Bluebird Grain Farms story, and our operations here at the new site.  This was highlighted on the final Saturday of the year with heavy attendance for another of our Open Houses.  We offered two rounds of the operations tour when folks learned about our grains and saw how we brought them first  into storage, cleaned them, then milled or directly packaged them for shipping.  Lots of great folks came from all over – including some from right here in the Methow.  We welcomed one and all and are most grateful for all the interest and questions and being able to celebrate the farming ethics we adhere to, as well as the importance of healthy food.  It seemed to be an engaging and a fun time for all, or so I hope.  It was for me!  We look forward to many more of these sorts of gatherings in 2024.

Meanwhile the winter birds are a little nonplussed by this unseasonal weather.  The chickadees are going through their motions and visiting our feeder but once in a while, I will catch them singing what I’ve always thought to be their “spring” song?  It has been a gentler start to winter  for the quail and other ground-grazers looking for seeds and grasses.  With the small amount of snow covering the ground, scratch marks along the edges of the trees reveal quail and other birds at work.  Deer easily munch bitterbrush and sage while coyotes yip at night, perhaps wishing for easier meals?  Ravens soar, always looking to cash in on an unsuspecting mouse, mole or leftover snack from coyote or cougar.

We closed the processing operations of the granary for the holidays.  We only shipped out retail orders during the week, but we are back to full production as we welcome the new year orders already accumulating on our clipboards.  Our dedicated crew here is rested and will begin the new year of grains for real: Cleaning, milling, bagging and shipping direct.  We are anticipating a very good year in 2024.  Our grain supply is excellent and our processing capacity has substantially increased with our new line.  No matter how busy we get, however, we will never lose sight of our roots and why we began Bluebird 19 years ago: For the love of the land – more than ever – and for the love of good, fresh food.

As orders increase, it will be more of a balancing act on how far ahead we generate finished products.  The main pillar of our reputation is that of fresh whole grains and whole grain flours.  Whether it is our signature ancient wheats –  einkorn and emmer – or our more current varieties of hard and soft white wheat, or the red and rye.  Our goal is to process as much as we can, like we have always done, on a weekly basis.  This is the way we can send fresh grains and flour to all of our customers.  This is how we identify ourselves as a true custom mill.

Working with our stalwart farm partners that dedicate so much work into raising these nutritious grains in an organic/regenerative system, we’ve been able to hit that consistency of quality and nutrition that sets us apart from other operations.  This is what you pay for at Bluebird Grain Farms: Top quality, reliability, and swift customer service.  Our crew here at the Farm is first rate, and we couldn’t do what we do if we didn’t all believe in the same ethics.  We look forward to serving you in a variety of ways in 2024.

As we enter the New Year the buzz around regenerative agricultural practices continues to build.  To be sure, there are different thoughts on what it means to be “Regenerative” but when all is said and done, more sustainable farm practices are becoming commonplace as many of our farm soils are literally “farmed out.”  More commercial corn and soybean growers are turning to biologicals as import fertilizer costs spike.  Many are already seeing positive results and at reduced costs.  Although the benefits of using biologicals isn’t new to many of us, I’m pleased to read more and more about this transition – be it forced or otherwise.  I truly believe most farmers of all types care about the land and want to do the right thing.  All of us are learning by the day, and learning something new.  This is what keeps farming exciting.  This is why we farm.  We have to work together to improve upon the increasingly damaged food system we’ve been under in this country following WWII.  Here’s to that challenge.  Here’s to collaboration!

Yours,

Farmer Sam

“Not yesterday I learned to know

The love of bare November days

Before the coming of the snow…”

And so the final stanza in Robert Frost’s “My November Guest” begins.  A more appropriate beginning, and now ending of November can not be found.  Indeed this November began with “silvery mist and sodden lane” as wonderful days of rain settled into our little valley next to the North Cascades.  Settled in and dislodged many of the brown leaves; softened the summer-bristled bunchgrasses; quieted the entire countryside.  Perfect for the soil before the coming snow indeed.  Perfect as only Nature is.

No valley snow this November, but following the rain the clouds lifted, northern breezes stirred and the nights grew crisp and the days brightened as a very different November saw us through the Thanksgiving holiday.  Now as the full Beaver Moon begins to wane, skies hang heavy once again.  Like the beavers who are said to take to their winter lodges for the winter, we, too, may wish to “hole up” during this sort of weather.  But Lo, not here at Bluebird!

As orders roll into the Farm the liveliness of our processing and packing rooms reminds me more of the chickadees up in our home orchard.  These sing-songy little bundles bring to life the damp trees, and the gray skies,  as do the south-bound geese and the squirrels who remain busy collecting crabapples, wizened elderberries, and fir cones – adding to their winter stash.

The winter field peas loved the late fall rains and are thriving.  As temps now begin to lower,  hopefully we will get a nice blanket of snow before the temps get too cold – 0 or lower.  I do not want to test their hardiness too much.  The geese and a few ducks have been enjoying the leafy greens, as have the deer – both mule deer and whitetail deer.  Wild turkeys, meanwhile, climb all over our hull piles enjoying the feast there while we enjoyed roasted turkey inside by the fire!

Indeed, it is good eating weather!  As one of my Uncle’s more was known to say: “It’s getting awfully hungry out.”  Cold out, eat in; the comfort is palatable.  As fields rest, so must the farmers.  Ha!  Many farmers remain plenty busy even after the crops are all in.  One main reason we began Bluebird and started a processing and milling line together, was to spread the summer crops into year-round income.  We wouldn’t want to get too much rest!  And so during this dark, most austere time of the year, the bustle around the mill adds energy to these otherwise leaden days.

We appreciate all of our customers both long-time customers, and those brand new.  Some of whom I recently met at our November Open House here at the Farm.  It is always rejuvenating to see new faces, and hear new questions.  During our November tour some folks visited from Texas, others from Alaska, and many from right here in the Northwest.

Our next Open House here is Saturday December 9th.  There will be another Open House with granary tour again the final Saturday of the year on the 30th.  I look forward to seeing you there!

Until then, try and enjoy this time of the year.  I am always reminded that when there are 18 hours of daylight in June – 12 hour workdays are easily the norm.  So 8 hour work days in December should be okay, in return!

As the seasons go round and round there are so many things we are thankful for here at Bluebird – mostly our great customers and our loyal employees.  We realize that there are other companies you can get sorts of ancient einkorn and emmer from but we know most of you come to Bluebird because of our highest standards in quality and consistency.  This begins with our experienced, hard working US grower-base, and is finished in our customized processing by a caring staff here at our family farm.

We are aware there are many out there who do not have the good fortune that some of us have.  I encourage us all to reach out not only this time of year, but year-round to lend a helping hand, go the extra step for a neighbor in need, or anyone else that can use some random kindness.  If we are ever to have World Peace, it still needs to begin next door.

Peace.  And good will to all –

Farmer Sam

Quiet, crisp and clear is how October went out. More classic fall, days I can’t recall. Of all the months, perhaps October is the month with the most change. This year October began mild and sunny, with some warm rains mixed in as the month progressed. Then on the 25th we had our first snow. Then as the final week built toward the Full Hunter’s Moon, temperatures dropped to nighttime teens and the days barely reached 40. Love it!

With this swing so came the goings and comings of birds. We said goodbye to the bluebirds and meadowlarks and most recently the robins. And hello to the chickadees, nuthatches and nighttime owls. The murmuring of cloud-hidden geese could be heard as they pushed on their ageless, southbound journey. Coyotes, too, joined this cacophony of wild sounds each moonlit night. What beautiful, still land these voices remind us of – remind us of our good fortune to be able to call this place Home.

And grow peas! Remember last month’s peas – how we just needed to give them a chance! Alas, up they came and along the rows they run! The past four 15 degree nights have tested the little buggers endurance and strength. So far, they seem to be fine. Some of the southbound geese sure enjoyed them, including a pair of snow geese. Canada geese are grazers and just graze off the pea -tops and don’t destroy the crops. Snowgeese, however, will actually rip and tear out the plants so we were not sorry to see them move on!

Here comes November… with its “silvery mist and sodden lane”. Indeed. A cold, steady rain falls outside this morning as the wood stove clicks away inside and a glowing warmth helps me type these notes. November is the month I love even more than October; the bare and hollow month is not lost on me. These rains are just perfect for our soils. The late fall moisture sets the stage for winter as I’ve mentioned so many times before. These lovely rains soften and open our ground so that any snow will perforate straight in come spring. Already, I’m feeling good about next Spring’s moisture.

Right now, however, we are happy to have most things put away for winter. Our granaries are packed full of the yummy summer grains, and the pace of orders and our processing kicked up a couple notches last month. Dan has been milling great flours here each week, and begins most every week with a large volume of our einkorn flour. You folks can’t seem to get enough! He’s doing a great job and it likely is realized in your baking. Spelt, einkorn and Sonora flours are flying out the door!

The Washington State grown whole grain einkorn you also see in our lentil/einkorn blend, as well as straight whole grain berries for cooking. As with our emmer and spelt – the other hulled wheats – we de-hull the einkorn in a fashion that does not compromise the kernels themselves, and leaves all the “skin” on and therefore giving you the lovely aroma and taste and nutrition that true whole grains should.

Speaking of food, we had a great weekend last month with David Montgomery and Anne Bikle, authors of “What Your Food Ate” – their most recent book. Our friend and librarian Craig Seasholes instigated this collaboration with Bluebird, and good friends Martha Kongsgaard and Peter Goldman hosted David and Anne in their lovely home at Gunn Ranch. Over a hundred folks attended David and Anne’s book discussion at the Winthrop Barn Saturday evening, then several more joined us for a “farm walk” Sunday at our Bluebird home field. In depth but casual conversations flowed as we walked among the winter peas, and ended up in the granary for more talk.

“What Your Food Ate” is very well researched and clearly written and stands on the premise that what your food eats is what you eat, whether it be good or bad. Truth to tell the results, or consequences in many cases of what one chooses to eat, are not all that surprising but equally important. And this health, or lack of, all begins in soil. The good news is, we can grow A LOT of food in this country. Perhaps this is not so good – our government continually chooses to subsidize predominately unhealthy farming practices, thus unhealthy foods.

One fairly simple change that comes to my mind is this: How about we begin giving farmers the financial support for change? No one would lose except, perhaps, the pharmaceutical companies. If our government were to begin subsidizing sustained biology-building farming practices, all equipment manufacturers could still remain in business. As would the seed companies and many of the fertilizer companies, even if they had to shift to selling more compost and plant based nutrients instead of importing mined chemicals from Russia – among other countries – and at escalating costs. Hmmm.

“Sustainable” or “Regenerative Agriculture” is not simply no-till paintings that rely heavily on chemical inputs and herbicides. These same subsidies could shift and be used to buy cover crop seed, more specialized farm equipment, and easier access to the information that already exists for switching systems over to sustainable, regenerative farming systems. Plus, let’s use some of these vast subsidies for continued research on these systems.

What your food eats is what ends up in your apple pie, in your Big ole’ Thanksgiving bird, and in that warm, lovely stuffing. Did I mention the upcoming and favorite holiday of mine? Did I mention I love to eat? I can not wait!

To go with the holidays, Bluebird will be hosting Open Houses Saturday November 25th after Thanksgiving, then again on Saturday December 9th and December 30th. Open House and tour will begin at 10 AM, plan for about an hour farm tour, and this leaves until 2 PM to mingle and for all those who want to put together gift baskets, or purchase any other holiday grain gifts while sipping hot drinks and…eating! Feel free to sign up here if you are interested in attending one of our farm tours. Bring your family and friends!

I look forward to seeing as many of you there as end up making it! Until then gather round, hold hands, and thank Mother Earth for the bounty she continues to give.

Peace,

Farmer Sam

Farm walk and soil health discussion with David and Anne.

Goodbye sweet September… and that it has been.  From the very beginning to nearly the end.  Warm, dry late summer days filled the month up until the autumn equinox. Although these days were almost hot at times, the cool mornings and long quiet evenings were idyllic. On que, the equinox came and the weather moved in. Now as the month leaves us and we enter fall, lovely rains have descended on the valley here and soaked the tired soils, while leaving the first snows in the North Cascades. Love it.  Love this season!!

Robins flood the back lawn and orchard at dawn. Easy pickings for worms these days. A gathering of bluebirds crowded the fencepost the other evening and I’m guessing their time here is running thin and soon they, too, will be gone until next spring.  The swallows have left, but  poorwills still sing before dawn as deer shuffle across the hillsides. A large variety of hawks are migrating this time of year – soaring in the mid-level thermals. Also on either side of the equinox the sandhill cranes were passing high, high overhead on their southbound journey with their unmistakable chatter, except this one which ended up in our field. Same time every year; nature never slows down!

I completed the einkorn harvest here at the Farm on the first day of the month.  The crop turned out  full, nice and clean this year. Next I chopped all the left behind straw up so we could more easily plant winter peas, which I was able to complete mid-month with our no-till drill. I stuck the peas quite deep with the theory being the deeper I got them the better the plant nodules will survive winter. I fretted for a time whether or not I might have gotten them too deep? Alas, when the moisture came and settled in, a few peas began poking up – much to the delight of the local Canada geese! My hope is to get the peas up to a full 3-4” before winter. They’ve about a month of growing weather so…I’ll let you know how the peas do in my next notes.

Activity here at the mill has been mild but steady.  Downturn in the economy affects most everyone and though we perhaps haven’t been as busy as we’d like, with the change to cooler weather I have trust in our customers that we will be fine as we enter what traditionally has been our busiest time of year at the granary.  Our grain supply of all varieties is good.  We are grateful to our partners for this!  Harvest weather couldn’t have been better and it was a good crop year overall and we have Mother Nature to thank for that most of all.

Anyone who has read my Farmer Notes for long has read the same thing from me this time of year:  I LOVE FALL.  Love the slow wind down of summer.  Love the slow build up to winter.  Last fall here in the inland Northwest warm fall ran on and on into November when – that fast – winter rolled in to stay during the very first week.  Yikes!  I’m hoping for a more gradual transition this year.  That said, already we’re getting good rains and this sets the stage for next spring, as it mellows the soils, and will allow what snow we get to hopefully percolate in instead of run off.

Wait, talk of next spring already… Not so fast!  But one farm season really does lead to another if we are lucky.  And planning for the next often begins a season or two before.  This is why I mention the moisture.  This is why we plant winter peas as a nitrogen building fall cover crop.  This is one of the cornerstones of organic and now, regenerative agriculture.  A few months ago in my notes I discussed certifications and just what is in a name…?

As the catch-phrases get tossed around, please keep in mind that only organic production carries universal certification.  Still.  There are a couple of ‘regenerative agriculture” private certifications, but none that are USDA implemented.  That might be a good thing!  However, I do believe that true organic agriculture should be regenerative by design, and vice versa.  As the term “Regenerative Ag” becomes more commonplace, it might be informative to know that many non-organic companies are jumping on this catch-phrase in effort to leverage their brands.  These companies are neither “certified regenerative” and certainly are not certified organic.  You  consumers who want to know more about the story of your food might want to study labels closely.  Labels such as “All Natural” or “Pasture Raised” or “Eco-friendly” or… or… in most cases are baseless.  If you can’t physically see how something is being grown, then the next best thing is to rely on certifications to help you decide whether or not it is something you care to eat.

What these other meaningless labels do is actually de-base those of us who are dedicated – not to mention paying – to become and remain certified organic.  And now, some who are dedicated to determining universal certification of regenerative.  We will not see the passing of the current Farm Bill anytime soon for other reasons, but if/when it does pass, most of the money that has been set aside this round for support of “organic” and/or “regenerative” still is just lip-service when compared to the billions and billions dumped annually into supporting Big Ag.  Truth to tell.  Under an extension of the Farm Bill – the most likely scenario upcoming – cost share for organic certification would be one of the first things cut.

This September marks the 38th year of the Farm Aid concert.  Co-founded by Wille Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp, Farm Aid concerts have raised over $70 million for family farms.  At this year’s concert all three co-founders played with an unannounced performance by Bob Dylan as well.  Dylan was said to have been an inspiration to the other three and as a result, we have Farm Aid.  Pretty amazing these “old geezers” – all of whom I love – have been singing about the importance of smaller farms, along with a host of other artists, longer than some of you readers have been alive!  Hmmm… what does that make me??

One thing you can count on is that here at our family owned and operated Bluebird Grain Farms  we will continue to be 100% certified organic.  All of us practice true organic agriculture and have the certifications to show it.  At the same time, we are practicing true regenerative agriculture.  So, with all that said… give peas a chance!!

Yours, Farmer Sam

Peas planted in Einkorn stubble after harvest add nitrogen back into the soil.

The summer of whacky weather almost skipped the Methow Valley altogether.  Almost.  As I type these notes at the close of August and half way into harvesting our home field of einkorn here, Mother Nature has ushered in a pretty hefty rain storm!  And a fast drop in temperature as follow up.  No real damage done, and an admittedly pleasant change from 90’s and intermittent smoke but this is not the time of year when we expect much in the way of moisture.  Still and all, I think we have had a far nicer and more stable summer than many other areas.

As I sat on the south porch sipping morning coffee this morning and breathing in the sweet, tangy aroma of fresh rain on dust – a unique smell all of its own – I watched a sharp-shinned hawk dive down and almost pick-off a soggy robin who was drying out on a fencepost.  Then a pair of hummingbirds zipped.  Then a towhee alighted in the bird bath.  My “bird of the month”, however, has to be the cedar waxwing.  We’ve two families here in our orchard and I just love their subtle voice that sounds more like an insect at times, than that of a bird.  What a beautiful bird these waxwings are.  I have no idea if and when they will leave?  The bluebirds have left and the swallows gather.  That fast, the season swings toward autumn and yesterday I noticed the first chickadee in quite a while.  In many ways the land is beginning to quiet from summer.  In others, not so much.  Just ask the building crescendo of coyotes who are working their way up toward this Blue Moon.  Speaking of, the weather cleared just in time so we got to see the stunning Super Blue Moon rise to the south above our apricot tree, and then early this morning set to the West behind the Butte.  A true marvel.

We will still get more heat here, and plenty of dry weather in the next month, but the bulk of summer has passed.  All the fruits are ripening and so have the grains.  The einkorn I was able to get before the storm is heavy-headed and cured out perfectly.  Had it cured just a couple days earlier…so it goes.  The past weekend’s heat did the trick but it wasn’t quite ready.  Monday I started; Tuesday it rained.  As I’ve mentioned before it is a wonder we ever get any crops in!  The rest of the einkorn is still standing and will dry out in a day or two.  In fact, a big wind is beginning to stir already so that will help.  All of this crop at the farm here is going to be used for next spring’s seed.

At his Lenwood Farms in the Basin, Brad has completed all of the harvest there and we’ve brought in a bunch of it already and our on-site storage is plugged at the moment.  We’ve also been able to clean up samples of the new lot: Sonora soft white, our Pasayten Hard White, and Methow hard red wheats.  They all have been sent to the grain inspection Lab and we had very good falling numbers (300’s) and good protein content (13 -14 %) on all.  We’ve cleaned and milled up samples from each lot and have already gotten them out on the market with positive feedback trickling in.  Soon, we will hull and clean up more einkorn. This year’s emmer harvest is about to begin.

Once I get the rest of the home field here harvested, I’m anxious to sow in winter peas.  I’ll  make another pass over the stubble and chop it up a little more, then direct seed the winter peas before mid-September.  I like to see them get up a few inches before winter.  This should give us a good nitrogen boost following this year’s grain crop.

Also, I’m looking forward to sowing some Native grasses along the cultivated field’s borders where we don’t have supplemental irrigation and have lighter soils that are otherwise too (stony!) to effectively produce on.  With the help of the local Conservation District, we are also looking into planting some pollinator species of drought tolerant shrubs and wildlife attractors.  Being close to the river, we have a myriad of birds and animals that might enjoy these enhancements.  We like to include all the creatures great and small on the farm here.

This is my annual reminder that schools are back in session now, and especially busy during certain times of the day.  Please be mindful of the little ones on the streets as they may not always be watching for you.  September is a great time of year.  Let’s try our best to keep it that way, as we enjoy the true bounty of the season at every meal.

Yours,

Farmer Sam

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.