October 2016 Farmer Notes

Farmer Notes


A cloudy day from the porch….

Beginning here by following up on the end of last month’s Farmer Notes…The weather has been far more conducive for eating than ‘being out on the land.’ If not the wettest Methow October to date, it has to be close. I’m sitting here in the kitchen listening to the rain pour trying to remember if we’ve had 2 consecutive clear days or not this month? Two days I believe, because we had two mornings of 22 degrees FH just prior to the full Hunter’s Moon this past weekend. So I’ve had few mornings on the porch sharing coffee with the birds. That said, I can report there’s been a large gathering of robins this month, who undoubtedly have been enjoying easy pickings when it comes to worms. I’ve seen flocks of 30-40. Also, various hawks, a few chickadees, finches, and yesterday the first fall flight of south-bound geese.

What began as a very strong harvest has ended on a lower note.  Gone are the crisp, dry days of mid September and now we are faced with the prospect of not reaping the last 15+ percent of our crop.  The late ripening due to the cooler, moister summer pushed harvest just late enough so the last planting never got time to cure, only because October has been nothing but wet. The up-side of this is that our winter peas and rye are thriving. Happy to report the no-till drill worked well. Although in retrospect, one could have just broadcast peas onto the ground’s surface and gotten a stand this fall. Here’s a poem I wrote called Hunter’s Moon:

Fresh-turned November field
Swollen and pliant;
Southerly rain drenching
These tired hills
Skipping days weeklong.
Morning mist hugs the river
Trailing a full-moon
Chopped stubble caught
In chunky disc lines-
The pungent odor of decay
Delighting this farmer’s mind.

When at once I see
My prints are not all
Nor the biggest-
Nor the most
And surely the least sure.
From the by-gone orchard they climb
Big in front, two behind
Winding a curious path:
Deep, slow, commanding-
Claw-marks inches long
Pads worn smooth to shine

With warm familiarity I follow
Childhood wonder not lost
On dozens of encounters now;
Steeped in gratitude
If not haunting kinship-
A gypsy-wind longing
Just shy of understanding
Full of compassion
For old she-bear.
Whose kind has run
Charged me, studied me
And finally been disgusted
In all make-ups of
Damp woods; wild tundra streams
Snow-patched mountains or
This luxury of field.

Yet just last night I missed
Her non-chalant mosey
To this center-field rock
For a contemplative look
At the awkward world she’s captive to
Day-long, before now
And her quiet stepping out.
Stout legs plodding
Heavy, apple-filled belly
To visit the view-
As if age could be suspended
Before one more winter’s nap
(Would this be the last?)

Stars so cold
Mountains like a saw
Cutting the white moon
The silence of fall night
Embracing only those now awake-
That other nation whose land
This can only be…
Through her sunken eyes
Oh, if I could only see
At best I would see
A most untidy harmony.

Yours, Farmer Sam