Happy Holidays and New Year to all of our members! We couldn’t do it without you!!
As we welcome in 2018 with icy, clear, snow-covered Cascade mountain mornings, we have a tradition of writing down our farming predictions on the first day of the New Year. It is a great practice as in January the lessons of the previous season are still very fresh in our minds. Our surprises and disappointments have mostly unfolded and already formed the guiding thoughts for changes in the coming season. The lessons, fresh in our mind from last season, center around a similar and constant issue, water and timing.
This year, a few examples stand out when we planted our winter squash early while the fields were still quite saturated, but looking back too wet for planting and conversely, our big beet planting went in on time, but unfortunately at the start of a what turned out to be our hottest and driest stretch on record, thus setting them way back into the fall.
Water, so critical in its amount and timing, will forever shape our farming outcome, and no matter how many innovations the world may unfold this premise is based on natural resources far beyond our control. To harness the water when it is abundant and to conserve in times of desperation is an age-old lesson passed on from generation to generation. It is also becoming much harder to predict in our teachings from the years past, however many signs point to the premise that natural weather events locally and globally are becoming more extreme and lasting longer in duration. Floods are starting earlier in the fall and lasting long into April flipping to the dry and hot summer months that have reached record highs for very extended periods. When we started farming 22 years ago, I used to make many dire predictions and I was given the nickname “Catastrophobic Wendy.” There were many years in which I lost this pessimistic heart and hung it up on a rack for later. Later has arrived and for the last four years my prediction list seems to reflect more of these older catastrophes.
So as farmers where do we find solutions? Do we change the crop list, diversify a bit more with shorter successions, do we start earlier or maybe later? These are all the wonderful, but difficult questions we will wrangle with in the coming weeks. These are the questions that will hopefully lead me out of catastrophobia!
The beautiful premise underlying many farms and farmers is that there is a great resiliency in the soil, microbes, and our hearts to replenish our natural resources. Giving back to the land has always been the underlying principle as our mission continues every year to make our black gold, water, wildlife, and plants all stronger and healthier. This in turn provides us with delicious, healthy food!
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