Mother Nature Smiles at Guesses
December begins with a spell of drier weather and cold, starry nights in the Snoqualmie Valley. Heavy frost covers the landscape in the early hours, giving the drive to work a pale, pristine beauty. It’s harder to recognize who’s who on the crews beneath the hats and gear these days, and harvest hours are compressed between mid-morning, when the plants have recovered from the cold, and sunset at four-fifteen. Packing shed folk stay long past dark to finish the day’s work. Despite the ongoing activity, the farm feels quiet. Even the cats seem to be hiding, having moved their headquarters from the garden (birds) to the third floor of the barn (mice).
Graceful trumpeter and tundra swans have joined the population of ducks and geese foraging in our fallow fields at Griffin and Ames. Like much western farmland in America, these open areas are an important part of the Pacific Flyway, one of four principal north-south bird-migration corridors in the western hemisphere. The availability of food, water, and shelter (and an absence of development) in key places along the route have ensured species survival for millennia. Maintaining habitat to support biodiversity is a key element of Full Circle’s organic practice, and because the birds are present only during the months when the fields are not in production, we are able to allow their presence without sustaining damage to our crops. When spring arrives, and long before tractors begin to roll, our lovely winter waterfowl will have moved on.
With more time to work indoors, the farm management crew continues laying plans for a new season of planting. Each year we estimate how much produce we’ll need to fill the farm-to-table boxes and farmers market stalls, as well as supply our grocery, restaurant and wholesale customers. Once we have these numbers, we’ll map out the year accordingly and hope Mother Nature doesn’t call our bluff. Although hedged on experience, with so much invested and so much at stake, farming may just be the world’s oldest form of gambling. Probably one reason why it seems to get into the blood!