September 2017 Farmer Notes

Farmer Notes

Swallows have gathered and gone, as have the bluebirds, hummers and meadowlarks while the sun lowers and days shorten with the autumn equinox already past. Although there may be a certain melancholy to the fading of summer, some of us are glad the smoke has finally cleared and the temps. have moderated and, truth to tell, this final week of September could not have been more mellow and lovely with clear, sunny days in the 70’s and star filled, quiet nights – some with lively northern lights bouncing across the heavens. Ahh… a relief and sanctity to a summers end indeed.

It couldn’t be better harvesting weather for us to gather the last of this year’s crop. For whatever reason, our latest planted field and last to come in, ended up being our best. Unfortunately, this likely will not compensate for the well-below yields of the fields combined. We are getting good results when we de-hull the ancient grains from this year’s crop. This means that during the de-hulling process our loss-rate of whole grain is lower than average. There often is quite a fluctuation between different lots and what we actually end up with as #1 grain varies based upon the idiosyncrasies. That said our raw volumes were down some thirty percent.

As the years go on, I’m more amazed each season that we ever pull off a crop. Tinkering with Mother Nature is precarious business to be sure and as we’ve been reminded lately, she can throw some awful tantrums whenever she sees fit. What we lacked in production this year, we were blessed with excellent weather for harvesting. Not one of our fields took any weather during the ripening stage. The quality of this season’s crop by and large is attributed to this.

As my favorite season descends on our little mountain valley here, so grows my appreciation for the end of another crop cycle. Our winter rye is drilled and up. As well, I’ve put in a couple trials of 2 different winter wheats: One hard red that I got from WSCIA in Pullman, and one variety of hard white that I received from Steve Jones over at the WSU research station at the Port of Skagit. Both of these grains are up and green and it will be interesting to see how they winter in our “wintry” climate.

Other fall work includes applying our microbial digesters to better break down all our grain straw. After watering this in we’ll allow it to sit a couple weeks, then likely hit the fields with the heavy off-set disk.

The granary has been busy with fall orders as the heavier cooking season cranks up. Here’s hoping that many of you get out to enjoy the changing colors and to see the migrations of birds that surely will be on the move. Right now, the last of the cicada and katydids form the perfect chorus to this mellowing of seasons. I can think of no better song but theirs to fall asleep by…

Yours, Farmer Sam