June Farmer Notes

Farmer Notes

Wow! The cool, moist spring continued on right up to the Summer Solstice. As for this weather, this spring was a very different one than most. One that, by and large we’ve embraced. We are not alone. Although I still need a jacket some days for my morning cup on the south porch, the birds are just loving the lushness of these first summer days.

This morning I observed young bluebirds in one of our boxes, with the mumma changing from just feeding the chicks inside, to trying to coax them into fledging. Hummingbirds were busy at the blossoming yellow roses, and waxwings dip in the bird bath. As well as wrens on the porch, orioles in the elderberry, flycatchers on the fence, swallows swooping before the rain, finch in the apricot, buntings in the apple tree and of the evening how can one not stop and listen to the longing evening song of our good ole American robin atop the aspen. Truth to tell, I could spend the day and night marveling at birds. They are daily reminders of my good fortune to live where I live.

Our cover peas, of course, could not be happier and have reached flower stage and so I am taking them down before their cycle runs too far and they go to the pod and we’ve lost what we’ve gained as far as nutrients. I am working in the peas then directly following with a second cover of buckwheat which we’ll grow out until it flowers in early August when we will take it down and direct seed our winter rye crop for next year’s harvest. I seeded the peas to enhance the available nitrogen in the soils where I had wheat last year. The buckwheat crop predominantly will be for pulling up potassium levels, as well as for warm season weed suppression.

To date, I’ve not used a drop of irrigation water for any of this! This is the latest date yet that I’ve not taken advantage of our supplemental irrigation. Our systems are charged and ready, but with no early spring tillage and direct seeding of the peas, all the winter’s moisture is still in the profile and we’ve been getting rains ever since. We will only be doing one round of tillage while working in the peas and firming a new seed bed this entire season, as we work toward minimal tillage and more continuous cropping from here on. Most of you readers know this is a goal I’ve been working toward for a while now. Fingers crossed. We’re gettin’ there!

Up on the Waterville Plateau south of here our wheat growing partner Tom has been enjoying the wet spring and he has a good looking crop of winter hard red wheat coming along. Down in the Columbia Basin, Brad has a lush, lush crop of einkorn nearing boot stage. Harvest likely will be pushed a couple weeks later this year as most years when the crop is heavy due to lots of moisture, a later harvest is anticipated. Much of this will depend on what July brings for weather, and early August.

The real news:  We have begun our move! Indeed, all of our tanks have been moved from up here down to our Highway 20 site, set in place, and we’ve shuffled most of our remaining inventory down there. As well, we are taking out bucket elevators and other pieces of equipment from here that we plan to use down in our new line and so, after 17 years of operating year around up here in the hills, Bluebird is soon going to be running full tilt, at much higher capacity and more efficiently, down where we will be easy to find! I can’t convey how excited we all are. I can’t convey how we look forward to meeting more of our customers and selling even higher grade goods than we are now. Did I mention we are excited!

By the time you read July’s notes, we will be reporting from the new granary and I’ll be able to give you the low-down on the equipment upgrades and hopefully that it is all running smooth! Amen. Meanwhile – and during this big shuffle – we have planned ahead and have all your favorite grains cleaned up, and will continue to mill fresh flour to order on a weekly basis as always, and as we will continue to do once moved. So… Enjoy the first days of summer here. And let’s keep hoping for daily Peace. Yours, Farmer Sam

Grain Tanks in Place at our New Site on Hwy 20