With the gold and crimson hues filling the foothills; with the lengthening shadows, gathering raptors and southbound geese; with the hold-out robins foraging new worms from the suddenly wet soil from first-snow… comes my favorite of season. Ahh, at long last the blessed fall. There may be too many reasons to list why I so love fall, but of them a slowing down time and time for reflection has to be near the top of that list.
Another farming season is behind us. It will take some reflection indeed to sort through all we learned from this year, and more time to sort through what remains a mystery. As I mentioned in the past letter, this year’s crop was not our best. Smoke, heat, drought… who knows? The mass of possible factors for success, or lack of, is too large to know what exactly makes a good crop or not.
That said our hulled grains are cleaning out better than ever. And so we are capturing a very good percentage of our grains and we’ve been selling a lot! Many of you are already enjoying this year’s emmer crop, and all our grains are getting high marks of quality which is the most important to us.
October remained mild and dry right up to the 3rd week. We were able to get most of our fall work done, including applying straw digesters, and giving the fields a once or twice over with our disks. As well, we took fall soil samples and we are having them analyzed for next spring’s planting. Taking a day to pull soil samples is always time well spent. We have our irrigation water analyzed also, so that we know the true conductivity realized once the water goes into/through the soil. This is important to get a feeling for the complete growth picture. If some of our deficit in this year’s crop is due to low mineral levels, or other points of deficient fertility, soil and water properties give us a better platform to work from.
Knowing our grains the way we do here at Bluebird gives us advantages over some bigger plants/mills in that we are sure of the sources of our raw grains. Therefore, we can pin-point more easily where adjustments may need to be made since we know where the grains come from! Often, the exact field they come from and the history of those fields. Work, yeah plenty of work, but understanding the whole picture is the idea.
The more I know the less I know – to quote an over-used but frightfully accurate phrase. This certainly pertains to my farming experience. Likely, I’m not alone here. This adds both excitement and stress to this peculiar yet basic occupation. Although the farming fraternity may have diminished over the years, I’m guessing the mysteries and lessons and work have remained much the same.
Seeing the fields “put to bed” for winter brings a certain satisfaction to be sure, whether it is a sign of “rest”, completion, hope… not sure? Being a processor as well as producer, we don’t necessarily get the winter off by any means. We go from two businesses to one is all, but this does seem somewhat of a break. That said the baking season is heating up!
Good thing our 50 + year old mill is running along nicely. Good thing Kevin likes to run it so! One more good thing: you all love the fresh flour! All these good things complete the circle here at Bluebird. These sorts of goodies are sometimes hard to put value to. One cannot measure appreciation, interest, or loyalty in pounds and bushels or any other calculator of yield. In this, we feel very fortunate.
So… I’m hoping everyone can reflect some and go into the holiday season counting their good fortune. There has been far too much tragedy just since I last wrote: Puerto Rico; Florida; Las Vegas; California…. Awful scenarios one and all. Our thoughts go out to these communities. This gives even more reason to sit with those you love, and break bread.
Yours, Farmer Sam