Snow falls steadily outside; finches, grosbeaks and chickadees joist at the feeder as I tap these keys. A raven soars above the chicken coop. Last night a great horned owl hooted outside our bedroom while coyotes yipped at the fat moon from further away. Winter bears ripened fruit of it’s own and winter’s sleep is the good sleep.
A year ago we received 4 feet of snow up here on the Rendezvous during the first 8 days of the month. I’m not anticipating such again this year, but the latest little round freshened up the landscape and was a nice change from the day-long fog we had periodically been getting throughout January. Although we didn’t receive that much additional snow during January, temperatures remained fairly cool and the snow pack is still solid. At this point things look promising so far as spring moisture and good soil profile goes. Alas, in 2 more months, we’ll know the true story.
I’m never in a rush for winter to pass. This year, with additional employees and a lively flow of orders, it does seem that February has come upon us rather fast. Last month we made some minor improvements to our cleaning line and now we are working on a couple of improvements to the larger flour mill. Also, we plan to condense the floor footprint for the machines inside the granary. We’ll also be adding another elevator leg as part of this refinement as we need the extra room to grow again this year! So far we’ve been able to avoid shutting down altogether while making these improvements and all our employees continue to do a great job filling orders. Great service will always remain one of the primary goals as we grow!
Despite the falling snow, and thoughts of finally perhaps being able to ski the Butte soon, I’m aware that the next farming season is now closer than the past! There is plenty of planning to do in this regard. Not the least will be beginning seed selection for our spring sown crops. Also, I’m looking at a couple improved implements including a new field cultivator and/or a minimum till seed drill. These expenses have yet to be justified and will take further budgeting but they have been on our radar for a couple years now. I’ll let you know what we decide.
The nice thing about farming (ha, ha) is that there always is a tool you didn’t know you needed until you saw it! This is true for whatever type of farming one engages in I suppose. That said, the basics of how we farm will remain the same in that we will continue to concentrate on soil balance, timing, and wise water use.
After the crop losses we took last season I’m admittedly not quite as jazzed about the up-coming season as I might be with the lengthening days. However, we will strive to improve our plans and practices knowing that we can not control whatever tantrums MN decides to throw in the end. We can just continue to trust in her and know that whatever she does, it is necessary and perfect.
At this point, we do not have any additional farm leases secured for the coming farm year but this, too, is something we’re always trying to prove up. As time goes on, it seems more and more challenging to find relatively “clean” farm land that has not been abused to some extent either with chemicals or neglect. Yes, even in our little mountain valley here! It surprises me in some ways, and doesn’t in others. As a result, we will be looking to begin work with some other producers that can meet, or already meet, the Bluebird standard. Here again, I will let you know how this evolves.
Meanwhile, looks like I may need to clear out the driveway again before long! I hear the mill running and know that we’ve got trucks to meet this week. After having moments that felt like spring some afternoons later in January, early February is reminding us it remains a winter month.
Enjoy. Yours, Farmer Sam