Baby Grass Seed Scouting

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!

Walking the Newly Planted Wheat Fields

Good morning!  Here is another edition of Photo Friday…

Yesterday was a beautiful day!  So I set out to check on our newly planted wheat fields and see how they were coming along.  At this point, when they are newly planted slugs are their worst enemy!  We not only plant with bait next to the seed, we also at times have to spread on top of the ground to help keep the population of hungry wheat seed eating machines to a minimum.

2013-03-07_16-21-19_574This is a wheat seed, in a furrow.  You can see the dead grass that is also in there, that is because we no-till planted this wheat in the ground.

2013-03-07_16-20-59_934This little guy is growing fast!

2013-03-07_16-23-56_154Finally I found one that made it through the dirt and is sprouting…and not a slug in sight!

2013-03-07_16-21-40_314What a darn beautiful day to be outside walking fields!!!

Top 8 Winter Jobs on Our Farm

I have always said that farming is a pretty seasonal way of life.  After being back on the farm for seven years now, I think that I might need to re-phrase that a bit.  Yes it’s seasonal in the sense that you work 14 hour days, 7 days a week usually just during harvest in the summer, but it’s never to the point where nothing is going on.  To tell you the truth, sometimes I feel like a nice day in January can be more stressful and crazy that a harvest day in July!

So here are just a few of things that we’ve been up to this winter that has been keeping us at Kirsch Family Farms nice and busy!

1. Spraying – We spray most of our crops in the winter with pre-emergent herbicides to help us get a head start on weeds once the soil starts to warm up.



2. Meetings – Whether it’s learning about safety, new pesticide options, new regulations for employees, research information from the college, farmers in the winter can probably attend a meeting a day for a 3 month period.  Lots of good information, but also makes you ready to get out in the fields instead of sitting in a room listening.


3. Fixing – There are many times that equipment will break during the busy season and we just don’t have time to fix it right then and there.  Many times you use a patch to get you through the season (aka duct tape at times haha) and then you make sure to bring it in the shop over the winter to fix it right.

4. Blight Pruning – We have to prune out the blight that hits our hazelnut orchards every year.  We use a pruning tower and cut it out, stack the brush and then push it out of the orchard in the spring time.


5. Paperwork – The not so fun side of farming, but a reality for any business.  From end of the year payroll reporting, to budgets for all the crops for the coming year, it’s not fun but it is a nice way to stay out of the rain.

6. Planting – We plant spring wheat this time of year, we have a large window of time, usually until later in the spring.  We just did a few acres last week, as you can see we also planted it with slug bait in the row.


7. Slug Killing – It’s been an awful year for slugs, seems like we just can’t get ahead of them, so this year I have done a lot of not so glamorous slug hunting.  Turns out I can always find them, killing them is another issue.  Hopefully next year they will slow down a bit!


8. Never Ending Project List – I think every farm has this list, full of all the things that you never quite have time for but usually tackle one or two a winter.  This year we are doing two, first we took apart an old D2 cat and are putting it back together.  And secondly we are remodeling my old house into an official farm office!


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