Bluebird Grain Farms

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March…here with all your vagaries of weather. Truth to tell, February seemed like March month-long with robins showing up fast behind the red-winged blackbirds! I can say for certain that I never recall seeing or hearing a robin up here in February. Thank goodness March is here because I’ve seen robins in early March before…and finches and nuthatches and… with delight, we hear the voices of great horned owls, barred owls, and the subtle whistle of the saw-whet owl along the creek bottom both at first light and again at night. All the more prevalent as momentum built toward February’s Full Moon. It’s a hungry world out there come March most every winter. This winter might appear to have been easier than most for a lot of animals and birds however, easy is a relative term as it comes from the human viewpoint.

As robins flit in the fields and pull up the earthworms that love our cover crops, snow squalls hit the mountains. Heavy snow, in fact, has encapsulated the North Cascades as we usher in this mighty and lionish indeed. It is hard not to give up on winter at this point, but the new snow is welcome as the overall snowpack remains behind what we’d like.  his El Nino winter is true to form like no other. Here in the Valley floor even though the snow has been lean winter-long, our soil is well saturated. Of course our traditional spring winds can take a lot of that away but quick!  Ahhh…here I am once more, discussing the safe topic of weather.

At this point it still looks to be an earlier planting season for spring crops. Our winter peas are already in and growing from last fall, but there is another field I may be sowing spring cover peas in as early as April – very soon for this climate.  Both fields will receive another cover crop of buckwheat later in the summer.

Meanwhile our milling and shipping has been lively here at the facility. We jumped the year off to a strong start and as we enter the final month of the first quarter, we remain busy. Our einkorn flour continues as our top flour seller, but the emmer flour is catching up fast!  Between the whole grain emmer pancake mix, and our finely ground emmer flour, volumes are only about 20% behind einkorn flour. Must be the rich, nutty flavor of that wonderful whole grain emmer!  And the fact that Dan mills it fresh to order – a mainstay here at Bluebird Grains since our very beginning.

Brooke and I will be at Chef’s Warehouse for a presentation to start March, then we head to the northern prairies to see dear friends and farm partners the Schmaltz family. We look forward to visiting their large, fully organic/regenerative farm. We missed our fall visit. It has been a lean winter there also, so it may be early planting for them as well.  In the drought winters, or “open winters” –  true regenerative agriculture shines as it preserves moisture and biology in the soils that is easily lost under a more aggressive and chemical based farming trajectory. No surprise; much of the wildlife moves onto their farm where the crop ground goes minimally disturbed, and much of the native habitat is left intact.  

Every day it seems, I read more and more about our broken food system. Sad to say, I still read of the illegal use of under-age children being used/abused in some of the meat industry’s – and it is an industry – nastiest jobs. It is disturbing to read of the blanket contamination that herbicides have weighed upon our food systems – most recently chlormequat in small grains that make up a lot of breakfast cereals. With some irony I suppose, just when our government gets pressured to more clearly read the science and deem many herbicides “illegal” as they did this winter with dicamba, they turn around and allow for its use until current supply is gone!  In this country.  And how about “farms” where the crops never see actual soil at all – alive or dead?  

As dire as these continued findings remain in this day and age, it is also the reason so many consumers want change, and are leveraging the change to organic, sustainable, non-toxic farm practices with their purse strings. Even the USDA has awakened to the fact that we might have to begin subsidizing better farm practices, albeit on a miniscule level as compared to the subsidizing of Big Ag. I hope I live to see the day this is reversed, and that the farm subsidies (your tax dollars) go more heavily toward soil-building farm practices and healthy food.

Fear not, here at Bluebird Grain Farms we go about our organic business as usual, with respect to our soils, our farms, and our customers every day. This will not change with or without farm subsidies! We are grateful to our partner farms, and we are grateful to all of you. As Spring leans in with the gathering daylight and more heavy storms, think of our giving soils and think of our Mother. It is time to organize seeds to sow!

Here’s to the return of winter, Ha! But we will see you shortly in the Spring.


Farmer Sam