December Farmer Notes

Farmer Notes

As the afternoons grow ever short, finches and chickadees hurry to fill up on the sunflowers we’ve left for winter. Truth to tell, an edging of snow now crowns the sunflower’s circular face,  almost as round as that of Raggedy Anne. We’ve traded the sodden month of November – emphasis on sodden – for the colder and clearer days of early December. Last night when I stepped out with the dogs the stars couldn’t have been clearer. I believe Saturn, Venus and Jupitar were all in a line running northeast to southwest. Following silence.

What a wonderful November it was! Oh my, the month that goes so unloved by many delivered a bounty of moisture to our parched, hardened landscape. This moisture cycle began in late October, and lasted the entire month of November. It raised hell along the northwest coast but here in the Methow, it simply soaked our soils to completion. Now, with the winter seasons’ first snow to stick, the stage is set for what I anticipate to be a major spring re-charge to our little basin here. November is good to her word like no other month when it comes to being a big precipitator. At times the muck and rough working conditions began to make one feel edgy, but what glory compared to the dust and smoke of summertime.

This heavy moisture made it impossible to perform any of the late fall field work as I’d once hoped, but this was an even trade to be sure. The tillage and fall cover crop rotation is now shifted to the spring and spring cover crops. I was tempted a couple times to start on some of the fall work, but it remained  just too wet and would have been counterproductive. Such is the cycle of Nature and one never wants to try and push these cycles too hard.  

November also was a busy month processing orders here at the granary. This is often the case with the “eating season” coming on strong. We’ve been keeping the cleaning line cleaning and the mill grinding away and our freight carriers from falling asleep with lots of deliveries.  There are many moving parts as we head toward the Christmas season full bore.  So much happens in a year’s cycle, no? Yet I’m stunned that another year is coming to a close.  That said, I love winter – a very close second to autumn in this farmer’s estimation. I feel good about the fields going under for a while,  knowing they are at rest with ample moisture. I feel good abut the sanctity of winters’ blanket.

Up until just now, we’ve been able to ship out right from the granary yard here. Always a bonus if we get into December and trucks can still get out of here. However, that just changed and we will have to be shuttling pallets up the driveway for pick up, and snow removal will start in earnest soon.  However, this will be the last winter on the hill here for Bluebird as our new facility is all framed in and dry for lots of winter work on the interior. It is looking like an awesome space, with substantial room for growth.  We are excited about growing in a multitude of ways and certainly look forward to an easier place for public interface, and absolutely greater ease for freight! I keep telling the drivers, only one more winter…

We have a couple new employees on board this month here at the granary and we are hoping they will work into our systems, and then be making the transition to Bluebird II come next summer.  One of the things Brooke and I look forward to once moved, is addressing the over-used but important word “Sustainable.”  What exactly is a sustainable farm system/food system?  How does the organic label play a role in these declarations?  Does it play a role?  Could it play a bigger and more exact role?  How does it shape food?  Health?  And so on.

Most of you know that we began Bluebird Grain Farms because we care about the countryside and care about good food.  Now, 17 years later, we care even more.  We’ve seen how important our offerings are in this tiny place in the West, and how we can influence and educate far beyond our “hood.”  This is intriguing and makes us feel swell indeed for having come this far.  In the coming year, we’re hoping our evolution continues on a  multi-tiered front, and that we can make our engagement with sustainability and good food long lasting. We look forward to that engagement.  We look forward to engaging more folks and are most grateful for all your steadfast support thus far.  I want to believe that no matter what plays out, the consumer drives the bus in the end.

Please stay safe at the end of the year here, and beyond.  Please take care of your neighbors and try your best to keep them healthy as well. Seas are pretty rough at present, but in that roughness there are lessons to be learned.  As always, during the season of giving please give a hand to those so much less fortunate than many of us.

And… you’ll hear from me next year!

Yours, Farmer Sam