School is out for the summer, and while we have camps and a few fun outings planned, most of our summer is full of work on the farm.
This week was a juggle of childcare so I got to take the boys out for a few hours to work with me. We checked a few (very tall) tall fescue fields and headed out to a newly planted orchard to count trees. We planted a number of new baby hazelnut trees this past winter, and most are looking great, but there are a few dead ones that will need to be replanted.
So Hoot, Auggie and I headed out to do some tallying. A skill Auggie was very proud to have learned this year in kindergarten.
This spring and moving now into summer has been a struggle with the weather and rising costs. It’s a very uneasy time to be a farmer with all that has hit us this year that is out of our control. But it’s also just really amazing to get to be outside, teaching your kids all about what you love to do and seeing how much they love it also!
Someday these summer workers will be full time around here….probably (as I’m told often) before I know it!
Yesterday was a beautiful day here in the Willamette Valley! And when you get beautiful days in November it’s usually the best time to go and look to see how the fields are doing.
We have planted a number of perennial ryegrass seed acres this fall, referred to often as “baby fields”. And as my husband Matt likes to say, “Baby perennial ryegrass is always looking for a way to die!” What he means is that when perennial ryegrass is just starting out it makes for a delicious meal for both slugs and geese, and when they attack they can decimate acres and acres in just a few days. So we often go out to make sure as it’s coming up that it’s being protected as best we can.
To tell you the truth as we headed out across the field it didn’t look very good. It just looked like a lot of open soil with no sprout. Which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to get a field to grow.
But we didn’t let it worry us too much. This field wasn’t planted too long ago and we knew that it should just be starting to sprout. So with a closer inspection, this field is actually doing quite well as it just starts to come out of the ground.
That’s what we call the start of being able to “row up” a grass seed planting. And the good news is that while we found a few slugs, the bait that we put out a week ago is still protecting the grass as it sprouts. And as far as geese it didn’t look like they had found it yet, so we will continue to scout for them as they fly over and more than likely also start to spot the rows of tasty grass.
We also saw a lot of worm castings which is a sign of good soil health. You can see in this photo all the small dry bits of soil, that is all from worm activity.
These fields will need to be protected through the winter from the slugs, geese, and kept clean from weeds that will inevitably sprout through the dormant and growing season. Before harvest next July we will be out scouting our acres every few weeks, if not everyday depending on the conditions in the fields. Today was a beautiful day to get this done, I’m sure my rain coat and muck boot wearing days aren’t far away though…this is Oregon after all!
Farming is a way of life. For many of us during certain times of the year that means everything revolves around the life of farming. Everything from where you will be eating dinner, field or table, to what you can wear today, boots or flip flops. It’s a seven day a week, 24 hour a day job that never quits. Until you decide you’ve had enough and you just need a break. Last week I told Matt it was time to get off the farm for a few hours and have an adventure, so we packed up the car and headed for the Pacific Ocean for the afternoon.
It was great to getaway, to relax and just hang out. Meanwhile you never really can getaway so the whole time driving there and back, while Hoot napped in the back, we talked about planting schedules, field rotations and plans for the coming year and our crops. But at least we weren’t physically at the farm, we were covered in sand and happy as clams!
Then come the next day it was back to work. We are irrigating our youngest orchard of hazelnuts right now with their last set of water before they start to get ready for winter dormancy. Ground is being worked to get ready for planting. Soil tests are taken this time of year to make sure that our soil is happy and healthy moving into the next growing season. Cleaning up equipment from seed harvest, getting equipment ready for hazelnut harvest & planting. There is never a dull moment, but it was sure nice to getaway from it all (sort of) for a day.