June Farmer Notes

Farmer Notes

Ahhh… the long, sweet days of June.  The early light of dawn, the extended soft light of dusk.  Some days even before first light, birds have begun to wake and as dawn strengthens a growing cacophony begins: Catbirds, Chats, Bluebirds, Sparrows, Warblers, Orioles and lest we forget, the ever persistent House Wren! Why I ever leave the morning porch I do not know.  But I seldom go inside, this time of year, until the last and most restless birds of evening have rustled to their roosts, snuggled in and all falls quiet at once.  Later, maybe the sound of a nightjar or poorwill will echo through the dark.

June is the month when things really begin to grow here in the Northern Climes.  This includes grains.  This particularly includes einkorn which I sowed back in mid-May.  As I’ve mentioned before, einkorn comes out of the soil as fast as any grain, but from then until past the Summer Solstice this grain spends most of its energy developing roots, like the wild grasses it is so closely related to.  Then all at once, here at the end of June, it takes on a healthy green color, bristles up and begins to reach for the deep, blue sky until in another month it will stand 40 inches tall and be fully headed.  By August the heads will have filled out and curing will begin.  At least that is how it generally goes up here against the North Cascades.

Our crops further south in the Columbia Basin are two months ahead of crops up here.  The hard wheats and Einkorn there are almost done filling and the month of July will hopefully cure these crops to finish and help dry them for harvest by August.  At this juncture, all the crops look healthy and fairly full.  So… we have the whole summer ahead before we see the final results.

I’m in no rush.  As we often have heard from many, and certainly from those that might be our elders at the time, it truly is about the process.  The entire process.  In this case from sowing the seeds to the plate from which we eat.  Our supply from last year’s harvest has held up well and aside from our soft Sonora wheat, we’ve not run out of anything and are enjoying such yummies as emmer and einkorn in summer salads tossed in with early spinach and such.  These chilled salads are a great complement to perhaps some fresh fish: Salmon, trout, flounder?

At the granary where we clean and mill all these Bluebird grains we still try not to get too far ahead of our order needs even with the grain cleaning.  This way we are able to continue to sell the freshest grains, and certainly flour to customers both large and small.  Our crew is doing a great job prioritizing orders, and filling them on a weekly basis.  All the while, they are keeping a close eye on quality and making sure the standards we’ve long abided by remain unaltered.

Consistency is the key to all our relationships: Producer relationships, employee relationships, customer relations, and relationships with quality food which all lead back to our relationship with the Earth.  Mother Earth, somehow and some way, continues to bestow remarkable bounty for so many, and this can really be sensed here in the month of June.  Not a day goes by that we take this for granted.  Good food is not a right; it is a gift.  Here at Bluebird we are honored to participate in the circle of healthy food and play our role the best we can, no matter how large or small.

What will July bring?  Clear skies and sustained heat?  Thunderstorms and heavy rain or hail which could decimate crops in a flash?  July may bring dreaded wildfires and big winds and smoke, or it might bring all the aforementioned?  Stay tuned.  July often seems can seem a long, long month all of its own.  It certainly is the one month of full-on summer in the North.  I hope July brings fresh air, even if it’s hot.  I hope it brings play time in the water whatever the activity might be.  As well as gardening, hiking, fishing, reading, working… For all, I hope July brings good health, and continues to grow out the wonderful foods that the long, full days of June kicked into gear.

I look forward to July’s review next time.

Yours, Farmer Sam