Quite a busy summer for us, as you can tell by the lack of blog entries! I have been so busy helping to develop the new farm where I live and developing my farm business so that I can continue on this path of self-employment in a the world of farming, where it is not easy to pay the bills. (Hint to other perspective farmers: lowering your expenses is much easier than raising your income.)
The season has been full of interesting challenges for myself and most farmers in the region (interesting because I believe we always learn more when things don't go according to plan). The rainy summer brought a lot of disease for the potatoes, storage onions, garlic, and wheat. The millet crop downright failed for the first time in the 5 years I've grown it, because we tried to do it at home where the weed pressure was simply too overwhelming. (Note to self: do not plant grass family grains into a freshly seeded pasture). Sad, I do love the millet flour for my gluten-free baking! Our local wheat grower also had a massive crop failure from too much rain, too late into the season. Our CSA customers will get their money's worth, no doubt, but we will have to wiggle things a bit to even everything up.
The fava bean trials are all harvested and in. There were definitely some promising varieties at the green stage, and I look forward to doing the taste tests as a dry bean to determine if any are tender enough to go without peeling. That is the main goal- overwintering during a harsh winter around here - and cooking as a dry bean without needing to peel the individual beans.
We have also harvested all of our soup peas and camelina (an ancient oilseed crop). The camelina grew in nicely, with only one weeding, was easy to harvest, and easy to thresh. Unfotunately, half of the seed shattered when the temps got into the 90s here. I don't know if I should have harvested it earlier or if the unseasonable heat was what got it. I may try it one more year. Crops that shatter easy are a pain - but a vegetarian source of local oil would be nice to have and it is a fantastic chicken feed amendment.
I am still looking for volunteers who want to learn some of the harvesting and threshing. We still have to harvest flax, garbanzos, dry bean (lots and lots!), buckwheat, and dry corn. Harvest and threshing will mostly take place over the next month.
I will be leading a threshing workshop at the Whatcom Skillshare and Barter Fair. If you have not heard of this most awesome event, please check it out at: www.whatcomskillsharefaire.org. It is on Saturday, Sept 22, at the Deming Log Show grounds and will feature all sorts of wonderful self-sufficiency skills in all categories. It's only $2 to get in! (plus $8 for the vehicle itself if you drive). You can also bring things to barter and teach a skill yourself if you want!
Krista is a life-long resident of Whatcom County, Washington State. She has been gardening and farming in the area for over 15 years.