The New Year is barely a month old and one can already feel time slipping away! How can this be? To use one of my daughters once upon a time go-to lines when frustrated as a child: “Not Fair.” Well, I suppose fairness is as an objective assumption as any, yet it just doesn’t seem fair! But what about that Wolf Moon eclipse!! Now there was a fair sight to behold.
I believe I left off last years notes with some concern about the “order” of things as I reeled from seeing bluebirds in our yard the middle of December. I wish I could say I resolved this mystery, or that I witnessed no further oddities but this isn’t the case. True the bluebirds moved on but just yesterday while walking the dogs along the creek I heard the unmistakable voice of the robin. Truth to tell, I’ve heard them off and on this winter and remember seeing them in our drainage earlier in December. I also observed a shift in migratory wildfowl while out hunting this season… one that left our freezer a little low I might add! Word was a significant change in bird activities this winter… even the experts say.
So what does this mean for farming and grains and flours? Hmmm…. Although the winter has been perhaps milder than some, we are catching up on precipitation here in the eastern foothills of the North Cascades. Following a lovely, albeit dry fall, this first half of winter has brought several smaller storms from the south that have gradually added up. As of this writing, I believe snowpack is about average, and given that the ground never totally froze before the insulation, already I anticipate good infiltration of the soils come spring. This will also help our fall cover peas which we’re finding are really helping the health of our spring grains.
The emmer we’re running right now is off of our Big Valley lease and I have to say is about the best crop I’ve grown. Our clean out is low (percentage loss of unusable grain) and the density and color very deep and consistent. This has to be attributed to our soil fertility – part of which is the winter peas in the rotation, Of course, the weather is always a factor and… well, maybe good farming practices? Too many things out of my control factor into a given crop, so I’m always reluctant to take much credit. For you inspiring farmers out there, take note. It’s amazing how much more I thought I knew about farming 25 years ago!
The granary crew is delighted with the growing daylight and dropping temperatures – well, at least the growing daylight. Traveling up the sometimes plowed and sanded Rendezvous to work by itself can be fun. Then plugging in cold tractors and hoeing out grain wagons and plowing out the driveway and granary and scheduling out-going freight and then meeting trucks … Truly, they are doing a swell job. After the predictable post-holiday lull, we are cranking again in full form with orders pressing time-lines. Just the way we like it!
We had another year of growth in 2018 thanks to all of you faithful and all of you new! For this, we are very grateful. We love the idea of offering fresh grains and flours – the majority still grown here in the Methow – far and wide. Yes, I have to admit that it is hard sometimes to send our “primo” emmer far and wide yet not everyone in Washington is hooked -yet! And our einkorn flour seems to be almost as popular! We mill A LOT of einkorn flour each week and it may well be our most popular flour.
So… keep baking and cooking and eating this year! We love it. We promise to keep doing the important parts of what we do in keeping the soils strong and our grains tasty and working more to spread this ethic to others down the road.
Yours, Farmer Sam