Bluebird Grain Farms

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Glory be… we’re having an ole’ fashioned summer here in the Methow. Which means nothing but high pressure: Days in the 80’s and 90’s, zero precipitation, on and off wind, very “stable weather.” This is not something we take for granted. Although working day after day in the intense sun and afternoon heat is trying, it is nice not to be looking over one’s shoulder and bracing for the next violent storm, wildfire, and various other shades of uncertainty.

Well, some fires have actually been a factor and just recently we had a bad scare in the middle valley. Thanks to great fire suppression efforts, this nearby outbreak was put to rest very quickly. It served as a sober reminder, however, to all of us who get jumpy as the hillsides dry out and summer winds sometimes rave.

The young birds of all shapes and sizes are out and about – some second clutches. Mornings and evenings really are what mid-summer is about and I so enjoy watching the young hummingbirds, flycatchers, and bluebirds get their wings and try out being birds! To be sure, a family of young blue grouse has enjoyed the moister climes of our lawn and garden, as have a nice covey of Hungarian partridge. And the house wrens seem to keep the chatter going when all others are quiet.

The wild emmer moves river-like in the summer winds. That fast, the early fields have reached their peak growth and already are beginning to set seed and cure. After a cold, wet spring when I wasn’t sure it wise to get some crop planted first thing, these are the fields that seem to be heavy in the heat. I shut off the water on the early plantings entering the second week of the month, and the crops here really look strong. The later planted fields got hit with July’s heat a little harder, but with the supplemental water and nutrients still seem to be grooving. By the month’s end, all irrigation will be off and the rest is “wait and see.”

Here at the granary there has been a steady buzz. All of our customers seem to want to eat our grains and flours even when it’s 90 out! We’ve had strong sales and the crew in processing and packaging have been doing a swell job keeping up. I feel very fortunate to have such great help. Busy indeed this time of year running two businesses, instead of just one which we get to do beginning about November.

After our initial fertility that we drilled in with the seed, all we’ve put on the crops is sugar and liquid, cold pressed fish. Timing is everything, but these applications seemed to have been well received. We use them as a foliar in that we let this combo sit on the plant for a day or two, before turning the water back on. Anything that is left, goes right into the root zone.

I had a fun time re-connecting with an old acquaintance Dr. Steve Jones over at the Bread Lab at the Port of Skagit last week. We didn’t have near enough time to discuss all we wanted but he’s always done great work with wheat breeding and I’ve supported his efforts since he spoke out against GMO wheat 20 years ago. I hope to do more work with Steve in the future. And keep him from forgetting completely about us eastern Washington guys!

The old N-6 Gleaner fired right up after I did a basic, annual service on her.  This week I’ll roll her out, give her a good dusting off and probably go harvest our killer winter rye as a warm up to real harvest which likely will begin mid to later August.  Until then, stay cool and enjoy the richness of deep summer.

Yours, Farmer Sam

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