Farming is very centered around things that are out of our control; and I put weather very close if not at the top of that list. So it probably doesn’t surprise you that what makes a farming day busy is a direct correlation. Day 1: when it starts to rain. Day 2: when it finally dries out.
Day 1 is usually in the fall. We are waiting for rain to help water in chemical to keep our fields clean, we are planting in hopes for some good rains to give it a good start. We are working fields to get some moisture to help break up the clouds that don’t allow for a good seed bed. The day before it starts to rain in the fall is usually never long enough to get it all completely done; but that doesn’t mean you don’t work your tail off trying.
Day 2 hits in the late winter – early spring. the day that fields are finally dry enough from the wet patterns of winter weather. There is fertilizing, planting, spraying, spot spraying, strip spraying. The day the soil dries out enough to not get stuck, you wish you could go 100 different directions all at once.
So as spring break starts around here for our kids it looks like we also may be getting a nice stretch of drier weather to allow for possibly a window to get as much caught up as we can. Last week as another thunder shower poured down outside my office Matt and I were discussing how the most frustrating thing about it all is knowing that you’ve done all you can and yet the day it dries out we know that we are instantly behind. That’s farming for you!
It’s been a wet and cold start to spring so far this year here in the Willamette Valley. But things will warm up and we will be harvesting before we know it. Time will tell if it’s going to be a late start to harvest though, I know there are a lot of very small sized crops out there, and a lot of that can be contributed to the fall rains that didn’t come until very late. It’s all connected, it’s all a cycle and we just have to keep rolling on getting as much done to prepare to be able to execute on those two busiest days of the year!
We have an old boat. It was recovered years ago from the side of the road where someone had (so generously) left it near our property. My husband and I saw just “an old abandoned boat”, while our kids saw a pirate ship just needing some attention before she hit the high seas. Since I’m writing this blog we all know who won that debate.
So a short haul down the road, a lot of pressure washing, and this old gal has over the years been the center of many adventures. She’s caught salmon on the Pacific, fought off pirates near the Caribbean, and yachted through the Panama Canal. However with all these adventures under her belt, she had yet to actually get in any real water.
With all the rain this winter, the call to get her out on the sea was too much. Our kids saw that flooded bottom ground below the farm and it had to happen. So with waders on and a little prayer we launched that old pirate ship in the ditch below the farm. And to all our amazement the dang thing actually floated! Not one leak!
It was a great afternoon. Captain Hoot could have stayed all day with first mate Auggie, deck hand Dad, a few fair maidens (Millie & her cousin Addison) and boat dog Booker aboard.
The original idea was to finish out her first sail with a sleep out under the stars, but with temps still near freezing at night even an imagination as big as these farm kids have wasn’t enough to convince mom that was ok. Maybe next year…..
This flooded ditch below the farm holds a lot of adventurous memories for me as a kid and now they are all starting over with the next generation.
I love their imagination, I love how they make things happen and never think “well we can’t do that.” And I’m very certain that someday they will sleep out under the stars in their pirate ship; another adventure of many down the road that our farm kids get to dream up.
I often think in the back of my head that as farmers we really are never doing things the way that we have always done them, mostly because I’m constantly reminded when I talk to non-farmers that is what they assume. I’ve written before about how farmers are always “Doing what we’ve always done – NOPE!”. Last week I had the privilege of attending a grass seed research roundtable at Oregon State University. This is the first year that one has been held here in Oregon specific to grass seed. The room was full with over 30 stakeholders and another dozen or so logged in through zoom. Another reminder to me about how forward thinking and solution oriented this industry here in Oregon continues to be; which I love!
If we’re honest I think we can agree that research isn’t the most riveting topic most time, but the set up of this roundtable allowed us all to hear a summary from the researchers, limited to 10 minutes; enough time to summarize but not get too deep in the weeds of research which can put even the most nerdy farmer asleep (no offense to those in research). Which was followed up by 5 minutes for questions from producers, seed dealers, field-men, and other researchers.
Topics included many of the pests that we are constantly battling in the field and other challenges that we face as producers and as an industry as a whole. Voles, billbugs, symphylans (research to help off set the gap in control that the Lorsban/chlorpyrifos ban left us with), DNA testing for seed, field residue and pre-emergent sprays, optical seed sorting, weed management and smart sprayers, crop stand longevity, straw management and what that means for our soil and carbon sequestration, nitrogen leaching potential, and on and on.
They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. It’s no different in the farming world. Sitting there last week was a continuous reminder that our industry is always changing, adapting and finding solutions. As a solution oriented person both in my personal life and in my farming life, this was all very exciting to me.
Now comes the tough part of ranking them all for funding; research doesn’t come free but the knowledge that we will gain from these trials will pay time and time again for this industry here in Oregon. Last week was just another reason I’m proud to be a grass seed producer here in Oregon.