That fast it seems a couple months have passed since I last wrote Farmer Notes. By golly, it is true! I last wrote in late April when we were just getting rolling on the fields and here we are in the last week of June. Ahh, sweet, sweet June. Seldom a month that disappoints!
What began as a cool and mostly wet spring held true right thru the early part of this month. I believe we had a frost or two early this month, and certainly some frost in May. Alas, June has not been the wetter of the spring months, although it remained cool. Now that summer is “officially” here, temperatures are on the rise. Truth to tell, we had our first day of 90 degrees just yesterday. Even though we’ve seldom had more than a couple days in a row of clear sunshine, over all it’s been a good spring for grain.
We began planting our first fields the last couple days in April and finished our last grain field June 6th. We’re just now watering the later planted crops and on our early fields we’ve already applied organic fish fertilizer twice and are into deeper watering cycles. I’m always impressed how fast the grain grows once it kicks into gear around 4 leaf stage. Our first field of emmer is actually reaching boot stage and will be full on boot by the beginning of July. This is an important time to apply more nutrients and give water before the emmer gets too towering to water any longer.
Meanwhile, the last of our spring planting is almost finished as I’ve only a few acres left of buckwheat to drill. We’re putting buckwheat on fields that we hope to seed our winter grains in. Buckwheat loves heat and water, grows very fast and puts out a bunch of green manure in just a few weeks. Also, it is a great soil cleanser. Our hope is to use the moisture from growing out the buckwheat to seed our winter rye, and possibly some winter wheat late August.
Our Austrian winter peas planted last September loved the cooler, moister spring. We mowed them off a week or so after flower and hope to grow them out a bit longer before turning them under and fallowing that acreage the rest of the season.
The long light of June gives amazing energy. As well, it kicks off my favorite month of the summer wherein I can concentrate primarily on just growing… As I mentioned, it is all about managing moisture right now, and giving the crops supplemental biology and food as they grow. Hard to believe it will be all over in another month – the growing cycle of the spring grains that is, but no matter the weather, it is basically a 60 day cycle from beginning to finish.
The activity up here at the mill has been very steady! Sometimes we begin to see a lull as things heat up but orders have kept on a comin’ and Kevin has been plenty occupied cleaning and milling as well as the rest of the granary crew here. I’m looking forward to spending a day or two in the mill myself this week after I wrap up planting. Spending a day or two filling orders always reacquaints me with some of our great customers.
The bird-watching has been fabulous every day. Fledgling bluebirds and tanagers and flycatchers can often be seen dousing themselves in the birdbath just off our sipping porch. So interesting how they invigorate themselves. Little strikes me as more fascinating than birds. We’ve got a Kingbird that loves to make a racket down by the creek each morning, and of course the meadowlarks and robins and wrens and humming birds. One Sunday we hiked up the Butte and delighted in watching a flock of black swifts work the bugs – hopefully mosquitoes- in the upper drafts. Such elegant and agile birds with a name that speaks volumes about this bird. I’ve seen the earlier hatched ducklings now 2/3 the size of Mumma! And a few young grouse and at least one clutch of partridge.
These are the growing days: For birds, for grains, for Mother Earth. With some trepidation, I look to July. July, we know, can be a great growing month; it also can be a month of violent weather in the form of thunderstorms, heavy showers, wildfire and the H word…. We certainly hope we have a “nice” July. That said, I can’t begin to understand the things Nature does and why she does them but just have to believe it needs to be the way it needs to be.
Here’s hoping you all enjoy some swimming, boating, hiking, EATING and whatever summer fun suits you best. Until next month, when I can give you a better summary of our Bluebird crops, Cheers….