Two months have come and gone since my last Notes. As has Summer Solstice. Time waits for no one, truth to tell. Country living with the rain and birds and wind, or in the city where traffic and morning commute sets the rhythm – it seems to make little difference insofar as the pace of the passing time.
Plenty has happened in 2 months here at Bluebird Grains, including spring planting, spring growing, and even spring mowing! A whole repertoire of birds and birdsong beginning early spring with the meadowlarks, the wonderful snipe, robins, has graduated to tanangers, sparrows and wrens. The tanangers had a hold on the noisiest early morning birds, until now when the house wrens seem to have taken over. All the while, lots of quail, grouse and our beloved bluebirds… back at the oldest, least kept up bluebird house we have around our yard. Same every year. Blessed they are!
With all of Nature so busy, I figured I better get with it myself and after spring cultivation I planted our first einka field on May 2 – 3rd. It rowed nicely in a weeks’ time. Then I moved up the valley to continue on with more einka and emmer. Here is when things sort of stalled out for a bit, as we lost our main granary operator. Not the best of timing, however, we were over-loaded with orders so I got to step back into my old-time granary role.
It was interesting being alone in the granary for the first time in quite a while. I got to review our systems – daily! And I found my own rhythm as I contemplated what it is we truly do here to make Bluebird products so desirable. Processing grains we know well and on a custom basis, is the main cornerstone to consistent quality, and to our family farm. Particularly the hulled wheat (einkorn and emmer) as they hull fairly similarly, yet are two pretty different grains. Once they are hulled, then graded, their end use differs in some cases as well. We all know the boldness and chewy delight that our emmer offers. The einkorn is much more petite and is sought after more for flour than the emmer in some cases. The fresh milled einka flour has a sweet aroma like no other. At the same time, it is terrific as a lighter whole grain in broth or chilled for salads.
I love both the emmer and einkorn but here again, in different ways. Agronomically, the emmer has a lot of “get-go” wherein once sown, it jumps out of the soil in 5-6 days and keeps going. It’s a thinner leafed plant, wispy almost, but keeps growing every day. The einkorn germinates as quick as the emmer in many cases, but once it is up, it seems to sit around forever to “make its move”. Therefore, it is not as “competitive” with undesirables (weeds) as is the emmer. That said, about any day now, certainly early July, and einka will take off. I swear, it grows a foot a week for about 3 weeks and ends up towering over all else. Including the emmer.
The einka is a stubbier plant to begin with, and that heftier straw structure enables it to stand tall as opposed to the emmer which in heavy weather will sometimes go down (lodge) as its heads of grain are heavier than the wispier stalk.
Our strain of einkorn wheat, which we’ve worked years on selecting premium seed from, goes black when it cures. The emmer turns a really light, almost tan. But wait! We’ve got a lot of growing left to do before all that. Fact, we’ve got to get back to the planting…
I picked back up field work late-May and sowed the rest of the einkorn, and emmer at the end of May, finishing on the first of June. Both crops rowed quickly, and have had a good month of growing. I’ve yet to irrigate either of the later crops, as there was a lot of moisture in the soil profile, and why irrigate weeds? Let the grain go. I was getting close to adding water here at the months’ end when lo, after a week of wind, rain, and small hail. And the rain! I think it better, always to let Nature do the watering if possible. Not having to irrigate a crop for a month after planting I feel will be a good thing.
Meanwhile, we’ve got a few new charges around here. In late April, I went over the mountains and collected Clyde, our third black Lab in a row now; second from the same kennel. He came out of the ground quickly, and has been growing ever since!! What a fundamental joy he has been, to shadow 9-year-old Tucker around the fields, in the ditches, on the trail, and someday in the blind. Lucky him! Lucky us.
What’s more, we have brand new help in the granary with Tanner White stepping in right after high school graduation, and more recently, Levi Knox who plans to be our lead for a long time to come. Great guys, both of them. Welcome aboard!
June has been sweet. July and its heat and hopefully clear days will pull all those June juices up to fruit. When I write next, we should have a good idea about the crops. So, welcome summer… sort of? 38 degrees and damp this morning, but we’ll take it!
Yours, Farmer Sam