February 2017 Farmer Notes

Farmer Notes

By now you readers may know I tend to gauge the season by birds. At present, chickadees have shifted to their more springy song. At least they’ve shifted octaves and I’m calling it “springy.” That said, to date I’ve yet to hear or see the redwing blackbirds down at the pond?? Without fail, regardless of severity of the winter, they’ve always returned by the 17th. This makes it their latest arrival which means…???

What does any of it mean? Everything and nothing I suppose. Given the healthy sustained cold that kept well into February, and additional snow, I will not fault the blackbirds in their hesitation. The cold remained through both the wax and wane of the month’s full moon, with a week of powdery snow. Just in the past few days has it begun to loosen, and now the snowy roads are rotting out, things are soggy and as daylight gathers, I’m beginning to wonder – not speculate but wonder – just what the soil profile is going to be come April? Certainly could be a delay in field work. Then again, the past two springs have been very dry and warm. And this is a semi-desert climate with intense sun at times, and fairly light, porous soils. Indeed, I do think a lot of the moisture is already going down and in. Which is ideal.

Hold on; winter isn’t over, even though the back of the old man may be bending. Owls and coyotes still own the nights. February is a wonderful month for coyotes; it is their “courting” season. In their mating up they certainly have been vocal! We’ve had the same bunch around the creek and right outside here fairly regularly. I’m sure they are partially responsible for thinning down our quail covey that loves the grain hulls in the lower pasture. And this past week we’ve had a few remaining Hungarian partridge visiting at twilight for grain scraps and pebbles now baring up in our driveway. I suppose the owls may be responsible for the rest of the disappearing birds…?

The granary has been very lively here despite the wintry weather and on-going freight issues. I’m impressed with the volume of orders from both our local accounts and with our distributors. The grains are running well, milling well, and I believe tasting well! The crew is doing great and I almost hesitate to think that within the next 6 weeks, farming season will be here to interrupt the flow!

Being a producer/processor we have both businesses running for 7 months of the year and only one of the businesses (processing) in the winter. All hands on deck for the winter time, or maybe time to swap out ski runs from time to time!

I’m thinking that with the new tools we bought last year for the farming – the tine-weeder and the minimum-till drill, we will be able to save some tillage steps in the fields this spring and therefore may not need quite as much time to get planted. Of course, that is always the hope, and Mother can always change any of that at any given time.

So many different factors play out to make or break a crop that we can only plan and know that planning will likely change. It more is a matter of how much does it change? The next month will perhaps be the last chance to not be thinking farming full time, but the planning will begin. Because it could be today that the blackbirds return!  Oh, and did I mention the other true sign of the seasons change?  Wind.  Adding another bite to these 10 degree nights…

Yours, Farmer Sam