Week 26 – The Worst Fear a Farmer Has Before His Organic Oat Harvest!
Well, as the old saying goes, “do you want the good news or the bad news first?” Always take the bad news first, right? We had a storm on Saturday night and along with it some micro burst winds out of a storm cell. I awoke Sunday morning and my stomach dropped a bit as I looked out over our 60 acres of oats. Most of the field was as flat as a pancake! Although I’ve never experienced “downed” oats, it is a realized fear for many a farmer, both present and past. Before the storm, the oat stems were starting to turn brown and the seed heads were moving from milk stage to hard seed. We will be combining them in a few weeks…hopefully. I’m going to have my Dad come down and inspect them a little further today. Hopefully they didn’t snap off and there is enough resiliency for them to fill out the precious seed we hope to harvest. Regardless, it will be a loss from what looked like a great crop…and the harvest process will be much slower because we may have to swath them in only one direction. That means we would run the length of the field and instead of turning around and swathing back, we will have to run all the way back with the head up and start over. That’s at least twice as long, twice as slow, and more stress on the machine and crew.
Did I say there was good news? I’ll give you one guess on how much of our organic oat field blew over? Zip, zero, nada, zilch!!! Sunday morning I saw the downed oat field and had about a 5 minute ride over to inspect our home place with the organic oats. That was a long 5 minutes and I had multiple conversations with myself on how I was going to handle and move forward financially with a nearly lost oat crop. We are foremost doing what we do because we believe in creating nutrient-dense foods and to change agriculture for the better, but the first step in a sustainable farming operation is paying your bills. “So you want to be an organic farmer?”
So why did the oats stand tall in the organic field and fall flat on its face in the transitional ground? I may never be able to prove this because living organisms, (soil, plants, bacteria, fungi) are complicated and ever-changing, but I think it’s all about the micro-nutrients and a healthy microbiome. As I think often about plant, soil and animal health, why doesn’t it seem logical to think similarly about human health? An environmental event occurs, maybe exposure to a chemical or toxin, and 2 people are exposed. One succumbs to it and suffers…the other is unaffected. Sounds like the mysteries of health exist across the planet, affecting all living things, day in and day out. What do you think? Have you been paying attention as you drive through rural areas? Have you seen the big chemical sprayers rolling across our bountiful farmland? Are they improving the interwoven web of health between soil, plants, and humans or are they hurting it? Will a clear and decisive answer ever be found? And if it is, will the truth set us free?
We might as well double up on good news on this beautiful Monday. We also got a really great rain with that nasty wind…2.25 inches to be exact or that was what the gauge said. I always wonder…if the rain is horizontal how does it make it into the little gauge opening at the top? I can tell you that our green covered fields of hay, pasture, organic oats and corn all had open arms and soaked up every drop. I think the rain came in bursts over a few hours so the ground had time to absorb each wave. I would expect with this high pressure system, full sun and heat to come, we will see everything grow at a nice clip this week…always a good thing for a farmer in July when sometimes the heat turns up and the faucet turns off.
This last week we finally got our sprayer working and were able to run through all our pastures and organic corn. We used fish emulsion this time around, which includes great bacteria and micro-nutrients for the plants. It does not smell good….just ask Ryan. He was in an enclosed cab and still went home smelling like an abandoned fish plant. We will spray again and again this summer as we try to build that microbiome…and I’m guessing I’ll get a turn to smell like dead fish too….”honey, I’m home!”
I’ll have more info about some good sales on salmon and steaks coming next week. I’ll also be emailing the dozens of you who took advantage of my offer last week to have your box shipped with the lure of a promo code. We appreciate your order and continued support. We hope you have enjoyed all our products and we look forward to shipping you more. If you keep reading this and say “I really need to order”…don’t let more months pass you by with inferior grocery store so-called “grass-fed beef”. What you find on our farm is not what you find in the grocery store…I can promise you that.
I hope you all have a great 4th of July. I know we aren’t a perfect nation by a long shot, but I feel blessed to have grown up in the United States. Each day I feel like I can wake up and chase whatever my mind and heart seeks out. Not everybody in this world is so lucky and the older I get, the greater appreciation I have for my little patch of dirt in this life.