From a late start to Fall, we’ve gone right to an early beginning of winter in scarcely 3 weeks’ time! My, a faster change I do not recall here in the North Cascades. Yet, I had the feeling, after months on end of high pressure, that we might be “living on borrowed time”. Indeed. The good news is that during this rapid transformation, we did pick up a bunch of much-needed rain before the rain then shifted to snow. We received a strong 2 inches of moisture and the latest snow added more to that. Still, we are in a drought when we total up the moisture for the year to date.
As much as I study Mother Nature, I always get surprised or at the least, perplexed. This year I understood why the hummingbirds were late to leave, and some of the other birds hanging out beyond what one might expect; we hadn’t had a frost until 2 weeks ago! But I would have guessed they might have left earlier had they known the shift was so fast incoming? To be sure, now the remaining robins are gathering, the chickadees are almost gleeful, and high up the towarding geese have begun to move with intent.
Way down here at the ground level our winter grains had a great fall of growth and are headed into the early winter in good shape. Both the rye and wheat have begun to stool out and I have hope that they will survive, and even thrive come spring. Our late season groundwork may or may not occur at this point? We have a couple fall tillage projects left to complete but nothing paramount. What I’ve been concentrating on most is getting a couple of new grain tanks in place down on our highway property and trying to get the contractor we hired to get going and put up our pole barn there. The poles are finally in, and this shed will house various types of machinery, including our bigger grain huller just in from North Dakota. This is Phase II of our Three-phase expansion into a new facility.
Meanwhile, “winter activities” are testing us already up here in the Rendezvous at our current facility where the cleaning line and mill continue to hum 5 days a week. The baking season certainly has arrived and the eating season in general. Grain soups; rich loaves of bread cereal and waffles. I awoke one morning not long ago and for the first time in a while had a craving for pancakes. Glory be, we had the mix right nearby!
Most who have read my Farmer Notes over the years know how Fall is my favorite season. What I truly hope for is a return to Fall here, before winter comes for real. However, I recall the Fall of either 95-or 96 (old-timer talk here!) when I was still working as a hired farm hand here in the Valley. I believe it was the 16th of October when I was disking down pea stubble on the very property along the highway that Bluebird now owns 25 years later! I’d started to lay out the field by disking the perimeter and then began to make my up and down passes. It began snowing and soon was snowing so hard, I couldn’t keep track of where I’d made my last pass! I finally gave up and got my lab Max and went hunting instead. That storm dropped a nifty 9-10”. (We only got 5-6” the other day.) And by New Years that same year, we had even 6 feet on the Rendezvous. So, we will just have to see??
The best part about that early winter way back when… That was the winter when Brooke and I first met.
To be sure, the mountains are splendid all gowned in fresh white. To be sure, the rattlesnakes have likely called it a season by now, with nighttime temperatures in the teens. But I anticipate a thaw soon. Another rainstorm or two would really help the soil profile and set a better stage for spring.
As we edge toward the holidays I know most of us are uneasy and unsure of what to expect with the on-going Covid pandemic, the elections, the unemployment, and just a sea of uncertainty building. My hope is somehow, someway we can gather at least as family, and have the tradition of thanking the earth and those we hold dear and eat some mighty meals.
Next Notes: I’ll fill you in on the Podcast series I’m working on – soon to be released.
Don’t forget to vote!!
Yours, Farmer Sam