Bluebird Grain Farms

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20150319_145610Yellow bells, spring beauties, meadowlarks and yes, bluebirds! That fast, an early spring is upon us and the view here at Bluebird is quite different than last month’s as very mild temperatures and lots of sun have chased the snow except for the north slopes and leftover snowbanks. After a wintry beginning to February, it has been all spring since. Bees now are sipping nectar from the budding alder along  our creek. Coyotes yip one minute and a frog croaks the next.

Do I miss winter? Yes. Yet the warm days and green winter rye in our garden and the robin’s song and fresh smells of earth aren’t all bad. Indeed, thoughts turn to working in the soil. At this pace, we may be on some fields by the month’s end. In time, of course, for the obligatory April snow squalls quite likely, and freezing spring wind!  We’ll see.

We continued modifications in the granary over the past month, and have made some further improvements in our small, albeit good, milling line. These changes are intended to enhance our quality standards and do so in a more efficient manner. With anticipated growth again this year, this  will enable us to maintain our good service. As well, we’ve added some efficiency measures in our packaging room, too. This has made Halley very happy! She now has a new bag sealing/dating machine, all on a conveyor belt!!

We’ve  germ tested some of our seeds this month, with good results so far on one lot of the emmer stock , even though it received considerable damage during last summer’s violence. These seeds  test very vibrant so far. Right now, we’re testing our Einka seed. As well, we’ve been sourcing our pre-plant amendments and likely will be applying some early April. This could be a year when we actually get some April sown crops in. It has been a few seasons.

The longer I farm the less I know. Truth to tell, intuition still plays a large part in our farming practices, yet the weather always holds the trump card. During years when it is possible (like maybe this year?)I’ve felt that some early plantings have been worth trying. For the Methow, early is somewhere around the 3rd week in April. On a year like this soil temps. may indeed be warmer than usual and therefore the grain will keep growing once out of the ground. One advantage is the potential for an earlier harvest and, perhaps higher yield if the plants actually keep growing strong once up. The danger is that of the weather turning cold again, like it seems to always do in early May, and the plants sort of get stuck in idle, perhaps allowing other less desirable weeds the chance to come on.

Our heaviest crops have been our June planted crops, actually. However, then we push harvest on the autumn end. And, given the growing turbulence of the later summer weather we’re experiencing here, we’ll probably do both earlier and later plantings. Now as I gaze back outside, I see the rain has turned slightly to snow which makes me think we might not want to get in too much of a rush!

However, there is other prep work to do besides actually cultivation! Equipment maintenance, spring soil testing and, of course, rock picking in the more less-forgiving parts of our fields! This always is a nice way to get back on he land, particularly given the fact I’m from the granite state of New Hampshire where “pastures” were fenced with the stones picked to make the pasture.  Frost’s opening line in “Mending Walls”. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall… I’ve often thought should go more like: Something there is that doesn’t love a pasture! Hmmm…


Here’s a poem I wrote for March called “Spring’s Concerto:”

   The way

   a spring creek leaps

   and rolls and glistens

   in sharp, March sun;

   each bubble

   a gone‑by snowflake;

   each turn

   a great crawling out

   from the white blanket

   and such burrowing in.

   New eyes blink‑

   see grass green

   before them lies

   land ripe

   for slow, baggy clouds

   to spread open‑

   give life within

   innocence sung:

   meadowlarks’ song;

   innocence danced:

   feet skipping along

   to this ancient chime‑

   the only way

   the only true

   measure of time

                                                           Sam Lucy ©1997

Happy Equinox!   Farmer Sam