It is hard to believe but it is time to get farming again. We have already drilled a couple of crops and that leads to the news that we have some major changes that are happening here on the farm. The changes are based around the focus that we have on soil health and crop diversity.
The one crop that we have already drilled is a repeat from last year, the yellow field peas. The most important thing raising peas is timing and their time is early. I was hoping that we would have drilled them starting by March 1st, but a number of things held drilling up so we started on the 13th and ended on the 14th. We were lucky to get the little moisture that we did this winter so the peas went into nice moist soil. With the last report from our agronomist they have sprouted and should starting poking up anytime now.
The other crop that we got in the ground is a new OLD crop, it is an ancient grain called einkorn. Modern wheat is a hybrid bred over thousands of years, humans crossing different wild grains to get the plant that we call wheat today. One of the wild grains that is an ancestor of modern wheat is einkorn. When it grows it looks very similar to wheat but when it is harvested it doesn't thresh out clean, instead the hull stays on the seed. What makes einkorn special is that some people that are gluten sensitive can eat products made with einkorn and it doesn't cause the intestinal distress that modern wheat can cause. It does contain gluten so individuals with Celiac disease cannot eat it but it is an option for people looking for a non-hybrid wheat. Einkorn seed is a challenge to find and we were lucky enough to get enough for 5 acres.
I am excited about this year because with the addition of einkorn we will be have the most diverse crop selection that we ever had on the farm. There are many other additions to the standard hard white winter wheat, white proso millet, yellow field peas and black oil sunflowers that we had last year. We have added six other crops. The new additions are einkorn (already mentioned), chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), flax, buckwheat, grain sorghum (aka milo), and black eyed peas. The milo is a returning crop, we raised it a couple years ago, but all of the others are new to us and new to most farmers in this area. Stay tuned for updates about some of the things we are experimenting with including inner cropping and adding equipment to be able to offer gluten free harvesting.
In addition to the crops, we also have more livestock joining us. We are getting ready for their arrival and there is buzz in the air over them. We are adding ten additional hives of Russian bees this spring with more to come throughout the year. We are locating them in the middle of our operation on some grassland, this allows us to provide pollination for the crops while making it better for the bees. The crops that are new this year are well suited for bees and the buckwheat was actually chosen just for the bees. The hives will literally be within yards of the crops this year instead of a mile or two. The bees from last year have over wintered well and are out gathering pollen and nectar already, which is amazing as not much is flowering yet.
The other returning livestock is the brother chickens, we have already received a batch of chicks this year and they are almost three weeks old. I'm sure that Barb will be covering them as her schedule allows. She has been super busy working on her doctorate but her love of chickens still gets her out with the flock.
Well there are many other developments that have happened during the winter so stay tuned and I will try to get you up to date between all other projects. So until then, pray for rain as we always need it.
Roy will talk about the current events that are going on and why we are doing it, hopefully almost as good as Barb's Blog but lacking the fashion sense. This is a place for more technical information and day to day operations of the farm. Feel free to ask questions.