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Weather Update…It’s Still Cold!

13 Jan

Well it’s still freezing here in Oregon on the farm.  We did get a little insulation for the crops in the form of snow, but not sure it’s enough to make a difference. final-25

I get a lot of questions about what this will do to our crops.  So far I’m really only worried about our vegetable seed crops that were planted in the fall.  We have both cabbage & swiss chard that is still pretty small and not looking too happy with this cold weather.  I am told not to worry too much until 12 degrees, we have gotten down to 14 so far, hopefully that is the lowest we get!

final-22final-23This is a photo of some of our younger hazelnut trees.  These trees pollinate in the winter, however not when it’s this cold!

Just another reason why being a farmer is truly so risky, no one can control the weather, and no one can tell you what is going to happen.  Would we have changed our planting schedule last fall if we had known this was going to happen…probably so!  But once again (I feel like I say this a lot) that’s farming!

final-26Yukon sums up how we all feel about all this cold weather & snow pretty well…we know how you feel old dog…and we are right there with ya!

Happy Friday folks and stay warm!

Harvest Excited, Harvest Tired

22 Jul

I finally sat down and took a deep breath today. We are in the heart of harvest here and there’s a part of me that thrives on all that we accomplish in a day.  And there’s a part of me that’s just exhausted and wishes I could sleep for days.  I am harvest excited and I am harvest tired.

Catching a quick lunch in the shade of our seed truck.

There’s a part of me that sees harvest as dragging on forever then there’s a part of me that laughs at that part because we aren’t even close to being done.  There’s a part of me that gets so excited with good yields and very frustrated with fields that aren’t producing.  Because for us, this is it, this is when it all either happens or doesn’t for our whole year.

final-129A very rough, very awful cabbage field….wondering where the crop is? So were we unfortunately.

Harvest has been long, long days, long nights.  Days filled with paperwork that still has to get finished, bills that still need to be paid.  Logistics of who goes where and what needs to get done, what fields to irrigate, what fields to harvest…a constant triage of priorities.  Then evening comes, the boys in tow, and dinners and family time out in the field.  Which moves us straight into nights of infant cries, and the many needs of a toddler at 3am.  We are smiling, because that crazy spirit in us, that now 4 generations of harvest, heat, dust and dirt…we just can’t shake it.

And the truth is, I already know I’ll be sitting in the same pickup, watching the same beautiful sunset next year, looking forward to the harvest on the horizon.  I am continually excited at the potential, and feeling of a years worth of hard work, just hoping it all pays off.  This farming thing, it isn’t easy, it’s tough on levels that you put your heart and soul into.  It’s something that maybe only a farmer understands and only a farmer would sign up for.  It’s our life though, at times it’s beautiful, at times hard…but either way here we go again for another day!

How Farmers Take Care of Bees

23 May

There is a lot of talk about bees these days here on the farm.  Not only is it the time of year when bees come out to start pollinating the flowers of many of the plants here in the Willamette Valley, but it’s also the time of the year when a lot of pests come out.  This makes it especially challenging for many farmers who are as diversified as we are.  On the one hand as a farmer I need to take care of the crops that do not require bees and have many bugs that are attacking them, but I also need to make sure to protect the bees which are very important not only to our crops and neighbors crops, but to food supply in general (as seen below).

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So how do we do it?  How do I spray a crop with insecticides while at the same time protecting bees?  It’s a good and fair question to ask of farmers.  For us there are a lot of factors in play.  We have choices and I would like to line out a few that we consider.

1. Timing. Bees like many insects are not always out and about.  While they are “busy” by nature, the times when they rest or stay in their hives can be timed and worked around.  This gives us windows of opportunity to make sensitive applications.  For instance spraying at night or during the cool morning hours when those little workers are in their hives.

2. Where the bees are located. This is important because even if you spray an insecticide at night, you should always avoid spraying chemicals that could be harmful to bees on crops that have blooms.  This is when reading labels on your insecticides is so important.  Knowing if the chemical is harmful to bees and how long that time period will last is essential in knowing that you’re not causing harm to bees.  Many times this can also mean moving the bees out of the field for a time period in order to safely protect your crop and the pollinators.


3. Insecticide Choice. There has been a lot of research done in the area of bees.  Bayer CropScience has been a leader in the recent past showing that they believe there are advances in technology that help us find safer products for bees.  They also have been on the forefront of new technologies that have lead the way in helping to make bees healthier, make crops safer sites for them to thrive, and make farmers rest assured that they are not hurting these important insects.

4. Not spraying at all. Of course this is an option and I will say one that we take seriously.  Many times we will select a timing of spray that minimizes risk, say early in the morning, and then will take it a step further and leave a buffer (an unsprayed area) between any blooms and the insecticide.  While this isn’t the best for the crop we are trying to protect, we also understand that sometimes there is just no silver bullet and you have to triage how you manage all your crops across the board.

See…the bees love this farmer!

As farmers I can’t tell you enough how aware we are of the importance of bees for our crops.  These are just four important factors that we take into account when the time comes that we need to make a decision about spraying insecticide.  This list of four, it’s only the beginning in a long line of decisions that we have to make.  I have to admit it would be a lot easier to farm without an entire ecosystem in mind, but as a farmer that is a luxury that I simply cannot afford.

To learn more about bees and how the relationship between them and farmers is being taken care of here in Oregon and across the nation, I urge you to check out these great blogs:
Oregon Green – How a bee is born
It’s MomSense – Hold on Honey, What’s the Buzz about Bees?
Bees Please: Cooperation Needed to Protect a Vital Food Supply Link

Also Bayer CropScience has an excellent website dedicated to bees. Another great place to learn more!
Facebook Page – Bayer Bee Care Center
Website – https://beecare.bayer.com/home

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