And here they were, two scrawny male hummingbirds at the feeder after all this time. As if sheep hefted to the fell. Weeks had gone by since I traded out our one sunflower bird feeder for our one hummingbird feeder. It hung vacant for long enough that I actually restocked it with fresh juice then hung it with care in hopes that…. At last, they arrived and now as we enter the third week of May, the hummers are really here. The late arrival of the hummingbirds in large sanctifies the slow, cool, damp spring we are experiencing here in the Methow. If the tardiness of birds were not enough to figure in a late spring, what about the balsamroot in the upper foothills here? Or lack thereof. Our balsamroot blossoms either froze altogether, or decided not to bloom at all this year. Oh, there are clumps here and there but nothing like the yellow flooded hillsides that most years we see here in early May. What’s more, the lupine – usually a later bloomer – have begun to flourish! Mother Nature never ceases to amaze. Mother Nature… my library. I hope I live long enough to read all her books!
I thought it was wise to plant spring peas as early as I could in the fields this year and drilled them directly into winter’s residual moisture. As it turns out, I sowed them deeper than I’d first planned, given the malleable soil, but this worked out to be advantageous because the little sprouts remained under ground when we had a series of 20 degree April mornings that rolled into May. Peas are tough but yikes, 20 is pretty frosty for most any annual plant, and the cold days persisted. Luck would have it that just as morning temps moderated, the peas began peeking out from beneath the stubble and after just a handful of sunnier days and temps in the 50’s, most of the rows began to fill and peas began to reach up – as impervious to the cold as the meadowlarks dawn song.
Speaking of birds, if a little mumma robin didn’t find the perfect nesting spot! I noticed this when I went into the pole barn where the combine and various headers and other equipment are stored for the winter. I’d gone in to start a generator when a mumma robin flushed out from the pick-up platform on the Gleaner. There in the lee of the northwest wind, and deep enough into the bay to be out of the southward rain, a perfect nest was nestled onto the skate of the pick up reel. Five perfect blue eggs rested within. My, how fast Nature goes to work. I feel like when spring hits, I’m already three weeks late and need to get in gear. But robins… all of the wildlife in general I’d say, operate on a different level of urgency. Remarkable. Admirable. Undisputable. Just yesterday I noticed all the broken shells on the gravel nearby. That fast. In what seemed less than a weeks’ time!
So what does all this have to do with farming and custom processing and the world of Bluebird Grain Farms these days? Nothing. And everything. I like to think that every day we operate a scant step away from Nature, if at all. Which is why just weeks ago, when I could hear the northbound geese above the whirr of the mill, then the cranes, I took pause. I suggested everyone take a pause in their activities to come look, scan the sky and try and trace out the wavering birds that own this ageless music. Spring sky. Breeze blown, chewed on clouds. Mountain snow squalls, valley showers. What sky. What sounds. What a place!
Bluebirds, too. Their iridescent blue against the sage and rapidly greening hills. Moist hills, deep smells. And now Orioles have shown up in our elderberry and Izuali Bunting in the Apricot tree. Lest we forget, this all follows a very rainy late fall which sets the stage with hope in the fields. Planting season is slowly underway in these parts, and even slower in the northern prairies east and north of here. Food security is something that has come back into the limelight lately. Why does it always take a crisis of some sort to remind us of what is important?
While I feel awful about the needless conflict in Ukraine, I also realize this is another chance to evaluate our food systems and food supply chains. We’ve been very busy with orders here at the granary. We’d love to be moved into our new facility but aren’t quite there yet. That said, despite a back up here and there, we are doing pretty well servicing all your fine orders. Once again, the heyday of the custom mill near and far is here. We are grateful for the trusty and proven mill that we have but…
Our new facility is looking great! It will enable us to increase our processing and filling capacity significantly. Also, we will be refining the process and offering an even superior product than what we do now. Oh, and we won’t be bumping into each other! Target start up date is Summer Solstice. Hoo-ray!
Deputy Don at KROOT radio and I have been working on the next round of podcasts #’s 5-7. These build off of the 4-pack that we released last year. #5 interviews both myself and our farming partner Blaine Schmaltz, who is a cornerstone farmer in the “Regenerative Agriculture” movement. #6 concerns itself with our processing methods and capacities, and what it takes to preserve our grain’s integrity following harvest right up until it arrives on your table. #7 finally gets into today’s food systems and how we might “Reset the Table”. These podcasts will be released throughout the summer. In the meantime take a listen to our podcasts 1-4, click here to listen.
Meanwhile, congratulations to all of this year’s graduates both in high school and college. This is an exciting, and also dangerous time for young drivers full of springtime wishes and wondrous times ahead. Remember to SLOW down. For everyone’s benefit. And, as always, hope for PEACE.
Yours, Farmer Sam