Late summer to early winter that fast. And so the seasons have rolled here in the Methow this year, with little time at all for fall. The later start to summer kept things 3-4 weeks “behind” all the way to November. July was more like June; September more like August; October definitely more like September and than Wham – things jumped to December. Trailing our first and only rain since August; on the first Friday of November temperatures fell, as did snow 2 days later to the tune of 20 inches. More than two weeks have gone by since that hefty storm and the temperature still hasn’t gotten back up to freezing!
Although I’m still saddened by missing November “proper”: Wilting leaves, tilting sun, silvery mist and so forth, I remind myself we’ve certainly had sharp starts to winters’ past beginning in early November. From a moisture concern, I’d loved to have had Mother let go with a lot more rain before the snow. However, not only did the snow come with solid moisture in it, but it fell on unfrozen, softened ground as well. Given the amount of cushioning now, I believe there is enough snow to keep the soils from freezing and thus come spring, all the “white moisture” should percolate into the profile nicely. This all is a long, long way off but as with most farming, one’s hopes for the next season always begin with the last.
So what do the birds think? Ha! Truth to tell, any ground feeding birds likely are not happy with the forest and field floor disappearing literally overnight. The earlier snow and freeze has already waged a toll on not just ground feeding birds, but the deer as well. As for the winter birds – shrikes, owls, chickadees, finches…all have been prevalent and elegant around the homestead here, as well as our new granary. Dan got to see a shrike take a wayward songbird out of mid-air just the other day behind one of the silos, and was quite impressed with its fortitude. Harriers still work the meadows, and eagles congregate along the rivers, awaiting for more spawned out salmon to die. As lovely as the cold, crisp days are, and quiet starry nights at 5 degrees, it is hard not to feel some measure of empathy toward the wild creatures who have no warm soup nor wood stove to cozy up by.
On another note, a cheerier reminder of early snow is that of the holidays! Beginning with my favorite holiday this week – Thanksgiving. Here at Bluebird we’ve much indeed to be thankful for this year. We have a brand new processing and packaging facility now centrally located directly off of Highway 20. This is a culmination of great work by everyone involved to pull this off in little more than a year’s time. From our general contractor to our millwrights and certainly to our steadfast employees, we have made the transition into this much more efficient space, and gotten it running with no shut-down time at all from old times to new. In celebration of this, we hosted an open house wherein I gave a pair of walk thru tours of the processing area last Saturday. The turn out of folks was incredible and so sanctifying to what Bluebird does, who we are and where we are going. Many of the local bakers baked goods for the occasion, while Brooke cooked up a variety of our grain dishes including our hot farro porridge! Several volunteers, organized by the Methow Conservancy, helped facilitate parking and serving and added to the spirit along with our employees. Brooke and I couldn’t be more grateful for not just the support that turned out for that one, special day, but for all the support we’ve had these past 18 years. We simply could not have kept Bluebird going, much less thriving, without you.
So, thank YOU!
Now the stage is reset to do even more of what we do. Our main goals remain the same: Provide high quality organically grown grains, fresh flours and blends while taking care of lands the best we can for future generations of both people, and wildlife. The Bluebird brand will continue to grow by its involvement in working and honoring these ethics on a bigger stage altogether. I’m excited.
I’m also excited to gather round with dear ones and eat and eat and eat! I can’t say I will reflect on the Earth and Mother’s bounty with every bite, but our connection to the Earth will never be far from my palate either. I wish you all a peaceful holiday wherever you may gather. And please remember those not as fortunate as many of us. With the coming holiday season, so comes the season of charity: Food drives, clothing drives, neighbors helping neighbors in so many ways. Please partake.