The hot days of August faded fast with September’s arrival, which was ushered in by a bit of moisture and 40 degree nights. Not exactly the change one likes to see when beginning grain harvest, yet I recall it is not uncommon for September to begin rehearsing fall “fits”. The swallows are long gone and most of the blue-wing teal have left the pond while robins re-gather. Migrating hawks fill the skies and our family of bluebirds have grown up right before our very eyes. We’ve enjoyed watching them dunk and flutter in our bird-bath. As their departure nears, I can’t help but wonder how many, if any, will return? After dusk and before daylight I have been hearing the poorwill, and the meadowlarks but they, too, will soon be gone.
Alas, as we worked into September and the true Harvest moon ripened, the heat did return! Oh what sweet days we had the week proceeding this years plump Harvest Moon. Eighty degrees and sunshine with slight breezes; perfect harvesting weather. And harvest we did. As of this writing, we’ve taken in two-thirds of our crop and so far it has been running a little above average volume and is of excellent quality. Combining has been fun! The heavier the crop, the more one can keep the ole’ Gleaner maxed and the better job it likes to do threshing when all chambers are constantly full.
This year’s Einka actually came in a good 15% above our average and really seemed to do well. One field of emmer was also up bout 10 % with another right about average. We’ve already begun running some of this new-crop emmer and it is cleaning quite well, as is the Einka. This is Bluebird’s biggest Einka crop to date, so that is good news for all you Einka flour fans and for folks like yours truly who sometimes like to simmer the Einka berries in broth the same way as with emmer, and serve up with sea salt and butter.
Tom and Jay, our two wheat growers, are all finished with their harvest and have great reports on the hard white and hard red that they grew for Bluebird. They have excellent test weight numbers and good protein on both lots, with a higher yield than they anticipated. This, hopefully, is a good start to a longer relationship with both the Stahls and Goldmarks. (Good job guys!)
With the coming equinox so come the shorter growing days and this week we are going to try out a new tool. After much consideration, we decided to swap out our current grain drill for a true no-till drill. One of our main reasons for doing so is that this allows us to sow our winter pea cover crop right into our grain stubble post-harvest, without having to work up a seed bed. We are planning to do this this week, in and around the rest of harvest. After putting in the peas, we’ll do one last watering for the season with another dose of biology and carbohydrates (fish and sugar). This will aid in straw decomposition, plus kick off the winter peas. This way, after the winter snows go to work, spring time will give us some heavy green goods and fiber to turn in before coming back with grain. Already working on next year!
Our only other fall crop – our northern rye – I planted at the beginning of the month and it is up and running. I look for it to be stooling out here by late October, and am planning to foliar feed on some biology before we put this crop to bed for winter, too. But hey… winter is a ways off yet, no? And my favorite of favorite seasons – autumn- stands between now and winter and I surely hope to enjoy a long autumn in the fields, and elsewhere in the now-turning countryside.
We’ve eaten a couple meals of fresh mountain grouse (thanks dogs!). I love to sear them in an oil/butter combo, after dressing them with salt and pepper and rolling them in emmer flour. Any day now I’d expect to hear the sandhill cranes passing over from the north. This happens here in the valley almost always right on the equinox. We hear and sometimes see them high, high up going over the valley even if just for a couple days. Oh, the timelessness of it all! Nothing like a stiff autumn breeze and the sounds of migration to awaken the soul.
And so here’s to fall! As fine a time to be out on the land that I can think of. Also, a good time for eating…
Cheers, Farmer Sam