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Past Months Moccasin Telegraph

May-October 2011


Happy Halloween!

We'll see if we get any Trick or Treaters. It's kind of rare around here, especially now that most of our friends' kids are grown. I certainly didn't get any over the weekend, up in a backcountry camp where nightime visitors might even be alarming!

At least I didn't come across any fresh bear sign, but alas, not a whole lot of elk sign either. I was checking out a "new" spot, one where elk numbers might actually be up, due to wolf-induced translocations. Or so rumors had indicated, although I'd call them unsubstantiated at the moment. Yesterday reminded me why this mountain range never supported particularly large numbers of elk before. Frankly, the habitat's not that great. The forest is mature (and then some) with very little grass growth, and then you go almost directly to high alpine rocky stuff. The lower-elevation meadows are a little too accessible, in fact I was reminded why I'd pretty well sworn off hunting places that are open to motorized use.

At least it was interesting, checking out somewhere "new". It'd been a while... Plus I uncharacteristically forgot my camera, which I thought would guarantee that I'd come across the mightiest stag in the forest, but nope, wasn't meant to be.

That's not really what it's about for me anymore, although given the opportunity... I'd said a while back that at some point I was going to have to go up in the mountains and unwind a bit. That's more what it's about. I used to say it takes three days to unwind and shift gears, back to the pace & rhythms of nature. Son Cody and I took what turned into a 3-day'er opening weekend, and this last venture was only a bit over 24 hours, and I'm still not quite there. And, I don't even have a smart phone, and only rarely Facebook and never Twitter, although we still seem to approach information overload with some regularity!

So perhaps I'll have to bump that up to four or five days. The camping and horse packing part of it is fun from the start. Well, unless Strider starts bucking barely out of the parking lot. Luckily he's not rodeo material, Buddy told him to knock it off (and emphasized this by biting him in the neck!), and things settled down.

I'd mentioned years ago that one habit forming thing about the type of big game hunting we do is a slightly altered state sometimes entered when you're way up there, in the thick stuff, and get into the flow, or the zone, where you stop thinking in words and are just there, with all senses turned up to ten. I haven't quite hit that point yet this year...

So although as usual plenty else went on in October, I'm kind of in hunting story mode here, and this one doesn't even end with big antlers on the wall (or meat in the freezer).

Cody and I packed into our usual haunts in the Madison Range for the opener, 10/22. A Saturday opener, something new, which I think I like. Anyway, we got to the trailhead a bit late that Thursday. We've packed in the dark repeatedly, but bagged it this time and climbed up on a high point above the trailhead. Where you can see country that most fortunately, isn't visible from the road. And lo and behold, there were elk all over! Including some dandy bulls!!

So we "slept" that first night in the horse trailer. Or rather didn't sleep, in my case anyway! The damn horses kept fidgeting and clanging about all night long, it seemed... Shortly before daylight, another pickup and horse trailer pulled in. Cody and I both wound up visiting with the guy, who was headed in to join numerous friends in a hunting camp. Turns out he remembered meeting me twenty-some odd years ago, up above the Beartrap, when a bowhunting client out of Watson's camp (where this guy was guiding) got a helicopter ride out after an evening horse wreck in Murkwood.

So Cody and I got on the trail not too long after he left, packing three horses and hiking. Yep, I'm down to three useable horses, plus the two 35 year olds, and we're thinking after hunting season might be a good time to go horse shopping. So if you know of a nice, big, stout buckskin mare with plenty of mountain experience, and personality to boot, let us know...

Anyway, our long-standing plan was that Cody was going to bivouac out, while I tended the camp and horses, hunting a bit closer to "home". He'd been intending to spike out lower down on this ridge that leads up to the "luxury suite" bedding area, but after seeing all those elk, he changed his mind. The big boys are at the top of the crowd, approaching them from below is a recipe for failure, so...

So he wound up "camping" at 10,000', where it snowed for about three hours that night!

Opening morning dawned, with him in a position where he could quite likely come home with one of the biggest bulls in the Madison Range, at least once we got it retrieved.

Elk hunting is not an exact science however, and... it turned out the guy we'd met at the parking lot, along with a veritable crowd of other folks, plus four packstrings worth of horses, were camped right in the bottom of this canyon which must not be named. Right in plain sight of the elk! With lanterns lit and stoves burning (sending smoke right up to the Luxury Suite)...

Elk are not stupid. They clearly went "hmmm, we're outa here!"

There was not a single fresh track in the snow up there that morning. The elk had left during or prior to the snowstorm. Where to...?

Well, the next canyon over is hard to get to, a long ways from any direction, plus there's an outfitter camp in it, and like I said, elk aren't stupid. So they probably hit that canyon, and then went up. And up, and up some more. Maybe back over the divide to the east, where there's some high basins where basically no one goes.

Especially in years like this, with next to no snow, I've mentioned before that the elk probably lounge about up there and laugh at the humans down below.

Cody got back to camp at about 2:00 PM, just as I was taking off for an evening hunt, up above the Boulevard. Far preferable to getting up at 4:30 AM and hiking up there in the dark, IMO. And sure enough, I got into elk! Not too many, only ten. Five cows, four spikes, and a tiny little raghorn. Off in one of those basins I'd mentioned, where perhaps the only sensible means of retrieval would be a helicopter. If he'd been a giant six-point, it would have been a much tougher decision, but as is, it was a no-brainer.

Besides, I clearly need to make it out a few more times, so that I can once again properly unwind, resulting in greatly enhanced productivity! Maybe even get into the flow...




The sun's already set on September 2011, and I didn't even take a picture. It didn't really catch my eye, but at least I got this one a bit earlier.

I'm still not so sure about these shorter days. Although the Farmer's Market season is winding down, the Bogert one is still going (extended for two more weeks!). I think I'm going to lobby that it end at dark, though...

Once it gets dark I'm still thinking bedtime is near, but I suppose I'll adjust once farming winds down. And we're getting there; got sorta caught up plowing today. I still have a bit to do, but unless it rains it's just going to be "spot" plowing. The only good thing about having very little rain this summer is the weed growth is minimal. Well, that and our spring wheat appears to be of exceptional quality. Good thing, because it didn't yield all that well, but when you're talking nice dark, heavy, decent protein organic wheat...

Discussing this with fellow rebels, it appears organic spring wheat should be worth $12/bushel or so, which is only one reason marketing it is way more fun than selling to "Food, Inc."

Regular industrial ag spring wheat is worth somewhat over $8/bushel (before discounts, which render that number completely irrelevant), but I recently read an article that your average farmer only makes about $1 on that, same as back when it sold for $3/bushel! Ag expenses have gone through the ceiling...

But if you haven't spent anything on chemicals or fertilizer, and are running a $1000 combine versus a $300,000 one...

$12 isn't too shabby!

In fact I can't hardly imagine doing the other model anymore, and have been told by some who are "this isn't any fun anymore".

Of course the Tightwad Model requires that you know how to turn wrenches. And occasionally scrounge...

I blew a combine tire early on, not exactly a surprise. I'd replaced one of them a few years back, for ~$500. I knew the other one was marginal, & had even bought a cheap replacement at a salvage yard in Idaho (combined with a buffalo robe tannery run) a couple years back. It didn't even last an hour! It's hard to tell sometimes with farm tires...

Anyway, turns out new combine tires, even "smaller" ones like mine cost $1200+ these days!! Good grief...

At least I've been aware that a fellow scrounger (on a much larger scale), who's relocated to just over the hill possibly had one. And, that almost turned into a minor adventure in itself, possibly one of the funner things that came up in September.

Things like this uncannily often come up on late Fridays, and when I called he was in St. Louis, retrieving a '30's Lincoln. The following Monday was Labor Day (plus we had two Farmer's Markets inbetween), & he wasn't going to be back until Tuesday. And naturally, returned to pandemonium, so I wasn't surprised to not have my subsequent calls returned. Plus he has a reputation, although other family members are outstanding folks we have a bunch in common with, so I know what I'm into here. Plus he knows I know, and with that aside we actually get along fine!

So after yet another Bogert Market Tuesday evening, I decided to go up & drop in on him Wednesday morning. First I scrounged through the fairly amazing collection of antiques/junk around their shop. Nada, so the next closest alternative was just a ways further over the hill, at an old homestead. That was where it turned fun, and quite striking...

This place is definitely off the path, not in sight of any roads (or vice versa). It's out along a stream, east of Flathead Pass, but has a very isolated sense. It was probably settled in the late 1800's, although discussing this with another neighborhood resident she thought it was probably early 1900's. In any case, you could just feel the sense of history. I was really struck with how in some ways things are incredibly different, and in some ways they're not (in our case, anyway). Tracy and I talked about it, whether things were tougher back then, or now. We agreed it was physically tougher then, but mentally tougher now. Alas, we went over there in his truck, and I didn't take my camera, tsk! I might have to go back, one of these days...

So then I went to Plan C, yet another collection down in Wilsall, and lo and behold...

Yep, that is a basically new combine tire behind the old truck. For a mere fraction of the price!

Speaking of mentally tough, yesterday might have taken the cake, though. This week has been disproportionately meetings, which I still have yet to convince my wife are not "time off". I won't even try with the first one, because it was fun, although it's been tainted a bit since. This was an actual government meeting (with FWP representatives), which at my suggestion took place at the recently reconstructed Rockin' R Bar here in Bozeman. It was actually the first time any of us had been in it since the prior one blew up, but I may lobby for regular meeting location changes. Not for morning ones, though...

We wanted to make sure we were all on the same page before attending a meeting of the Madison Elk Working Group yesterday. And although we knew the sales job was going to be a challenge, I thought we were all on the same page.

But then Tuesday had an all-day meeting, actually a fairly good one, a business development seminar about building essential "customer pillars". It touched on quite a bit else, also though, like whether offering percentage discounts actually makes sense, versus offering additional "freebies". I still have to put a calculator to that one, in our case. Our profit margin is a bit higher than "normal", I'd like to think.

There were some ironies and tensions with this meeting, as some of my dealings with the sponsoring entity have been really good, and some of them really bad. Two different people, but so far we seem to be able to separate the issues, and so we'll see...

It was vastly preferable to yesterday's, at least. I've been participating in this working group for six or seven years now. At first it was just the Wildlife Committee of the Madison Ranchlands Group, but over time morphed into the elk working group. It's been pretty contentious at times, but overall has been viewed as a success by most.

Some would even say that for yesterday. Not me, though. The main point of contention (for many years now, at least for some) is setting a "population objective". They've never technically had agreement on an elk objective in the Madison, mainly because of the stunning diversity of constituents, with widely differing views on wildlife. So when the population objective subcommittee met last winter, I was mildly surprised that we came to total agreement, in one of the better meetings I've been at! Long-time, and old-time rancher Kevin Boltz, who I enjoy mutual like and respect with, as well as sorta-retired govt. employee, now ranch manager Ron Schott, plus FWP biologist Julie Cunningham. Kevin, Ron and I unanimously agreed to not agree on a population objective number. The situation remains way too diverse, and besides, none of us are down with objective based population "management". In fact if anything, we should have minimum population objectives.

Of course that means the bureaucrats ("administrators", not biologists) don't have hard numbers to work off, or at least justify their actions, which they don't like.

I still think our suggestions make perfect sense, though; going to more restrictive regulations on the public, the mountains. As is, you can blast any elk you see (or even two of them!), but we think it should go back to brow-tine bulls only, with limited (or no!) cow tags. Down on the flats, primarily private land where elk concentrations do cause problems, let 'em blaze away. And once hunting season finally ends, mid-February, everyone agrees the hazer did an excellent job keeping elk away from the (very limited numbers of) cattle.

So this idea of creating more of a "sanctuary" on the public seemed like a win/win to us, and at the Monday Rockin' R meeting we had consensus, or so we thought, from the agency people and a rep from the other main sportsman's group around here, a fellow long-time participant.

Except yesterday, gack... it still all but nauseates me. They can argue that we still got something, but the way it came about...

We got undercut at every turn. But at least one person got what they wanted. A number. Not a population "objective" at least, but a harvest target number. Pfffttt.... I hope it was worth it.




Today has consisted mostly of wrench turning and wrestling heavy iron about, until the last hour or so of photo editing. Which thankfully almost never results in bloody knuckles or profanity!

Well, at first I was having as-yet-unencountered issues with getting photos off the camera, but didn't file any "error reports", and went with Plan B, which worked.

As a whole, though, August was off the scale. Thank God, we don't lack for material around here! In fact the far more difficult decision is often deciding what not to include, which this month might be most of it...

I've always said it's a really striking contrast around here. If I'm at the desk it's 2011, but if I step out the door I'm back in the 70's. Although the World's Finest $1000 Combine is an '86, almost new for around here!

Ironically, back in our former life up on the Hi-Line, our friend and neighbor, plus in our case custom harvester Curt Halvorson also had a White (actually red) combine of the same vintage, which was the biggest rotary combine made at the time. So in a way it's striking they were still making ones like ours at the same time. And yet more thanks, it's still one of those you can work on yourself! Luckily I've noticed a bearing or two out, before things got hot. And was able to get parts no problemo, and replace them with minimal bloodshed or blasphemy!

Putting the straw chopper back on today made me grunt, and miss having a strong son around though. He's fighting fire up in the Flathead, although Good Grief, there's a Winter Weather Advisory for up there tonight, calling for up to three inches of snow above 6500'!

Here in the Valley of the Flowers, I'm beginning to think it might not even rain tonight. And if it doesn't I'll get rolling on spring wheat tomorrow (until it allegedly turns rainy again later in the day), but then the next few days sound plumb nice, and so once we get that done, press more camelina oil, plus now the Farmer's Market season will be winding down in coming weeks (until the Winter one fires up), we might even have time to get back after our far broader marketing plan.

This summer, we've been glad to be doing three markets per week, though. In fact it's kinda made the difference. Gotten us over yet another hump, so to speak. Plus you get to meet an amazing assortment of people. One of the more striking conversations up at Big Sky last week was with a "Business Development Specialist", whose experiences with raising operating capital for new entreprenurial adventures was uncannily similar to mine. In fact he said "unless you're asking for millions, forget about it!".

For better or worse, etc., we operate under the "tightwad model", though, and it appears we're past the "low point" of the buffalo thing going away, and isn't it ironic that (among other things) selling a few extra buffalo robes at the markets, plus some greatly appreciated help from family, got us over yet another divide, it appears. Plus our multi-year projections are being exceeded so far, a trend I expect to continue, and maybe someday I won't even have to be a tightwad anymore! Although, ahem..., that is perhaps genetically ingrained, and it works for me, so...

Plus now it's Harvest Time, and it appears we've missed yet another shower or two. Which is good at this point! It's waiting until I'm through harvesting (at least if the Weather Man is wrong again tomorrow), but then once I'm done with that we'll get a nice soaker prior to seeding winter wheat, and then...

I might have to go up in the mountains and unwind a bit.




July was an exceedingly full month around here, but at the moment I am primarily glad to be through haying.

Almost, anyway... I still have to get that last load stacked. Not tonight, though.

Yep, we still pick our hay by hand. Unbelieveable, I know. I've wondered about it myself at times, although not much anymore.

I didn't grow up haying, and must say, it's still not my thing. In fact, I've often said that it's possibly the least productive use of time of anything I do! And, we've only got about 40 acres of hay ground (thank God!), which was originally mostly a soil-rebuilding project.

So, the Rockpile Ranch is definitely not your typical hay ground. In fact, this is the first year I've put up any hay in... let's see... is it three years? The year before that we set a record (for the Rockpile), & got 30 ton of hay off the 40 acres. Most custom hay guys won't look at a project unless it'll go at least 2 ton to the acre. Wisely so...

And we haven't even mentioned rocks! Oh, yes...

So the year after that Mother Nature was in a mood (a late April "hot flash"), and I'd mowed & baled long enough to realize the yields were atrociously low, and then the $10 Baler broke. Knotter issues, kinda serious ones. And last year, the tractor was broke, but now...

Thanks to the Yesterday's Tractor site, I learned a trick for adjusting worn-out knotters, further augmented with possibly providentially provided shims I found, and...

The $10 Baler is working perfectly again, the best since I've had it. In fact it might be good to go for quite a while yet!

Picking hay, though... We've explored the alternatives. Our son Cody spent most of his teenage summers working for Leonard Reed, now 87 years old and still a noteworthy custom haying contractor around here. And then Tom LeProwse lives right up the road, and besides being football coach at Bozeman for a long time, ran a significant custom haying operation in the summers. So over the years I'd talked both of them into giving it a whirl with their balewagons.

Once was enough! It totally cured both of them!! The rocks...

You basically have to raise and lower the pickup for each bale. Ordinarily you leave it down and roll through the bales, but not here on the Rockpile...

So we pick them by hand. I dunno, some folks go to the gym, but...

Although in a day or two I'll probably say it wasn't that bad, at the moment, Tennessee Ernie Ford is going through my head...

Just a little more on this haying thing, though... Go ahead and laugh, maybe it's taken me seven years to learn how to hay here on the Rockpile. Just yesterday at the Farmer's Market I confirmed my opinions with another voice of experience, Harry Armstrong, who ranches further north off the west slope of the Bridgers, and direct markets his organic grass-fed beef all over (around here, anyway).

We agreed that at least one of the tricks is to cut a little higher. Stay out of the rocks!! I only had to replace one sickle section this year, mind-boggling in comparison to prior years. So you don't get that last 15% or so, but the stress level is reduced so much... And there's a bit less to pick up! Plus my horses are feasting on the leftovers. It's a no-brainer...!

In spite of how this has read so far, haying was actually a fairly "minor" project around here this month. We're doing three Farmer's Markets per week, plus Kim did another in-store demo or two, and has some more potentially quite good ones lined up.

Plus we had a successful debut yesterday for a new line of Omega-3 granolas that Kim's come up with. In fact they all but sold out, which is kinda striking for something new... So it appears our "product line" has expanded yet again, and in fact through the rest of the summer and into the fall, we expect to add several of these items into the retail outlets.

At least now Bachman-Turner Overdrive is going through my head...

Let's see... did we take any time off...?

Kinda barely. Kim and I drove up to Fairy Lake, here in the Bridgers last Sunday. And wow, you talk about a rough road!! I think I'd prefer hiking from this side, and have talked with a couple of people who've done that recently. One of these days, I might have to go for a walk myself...

Although it still definitely qualified as "work" I did get in on a trophy bull bison hunt on the Flying D. And the clients didn't want all the meat, so we have buffalo again...!

That turned into a long day also, as I was out there at 6:30 AM. Got back here with the first one at ~2:00 PM, and they didn't arrive with the second one until 8:00!! But luckily everyone rallied, and we got 'er done. And then we had the Saturday Market the next morning, got the buffalo clients loaded out later that afternoon, they pulled an all-nighter back to California, & had it to their meat processor there at 8:00 the next morning. Where it would still grade USDA Superlative!!

In fact Kim has just made a fantastic bison stir fry, and I believe it's dinner time! See you in August...




Happy New Year!!

At least if your fiscal year ends 6/30. I'll always remember running into our accountant/lawyer (and neighboring farmer) Darrell Peterson at the grocery store in Cut Bank on June 30 many years ago, and being greeted with an enthusiastic "Happy New Year!" Even Darrell agreed it wasn't exactly a Holiday, though, certainly not in his case.

So our farm corporation is outdated in numerous ways, not least of which is this fiscal year "deadline". Not that it really matters...

But at least our other entities go with the December version, which overall I prefer, I believe. Right now just isn't New Year's Eve, as we're in the thick of it, definitely "mid-year".

Which is good! In fact summer arrived right on schedule, 6/21. Prior to that it only barely qualified as "spring", more like the monsoon season. But since it's been gorgeous, and the plant growth is just exploding.

Backing up, though, we're glad the Farmer's Market season is here again! In fact we started out with the Livingston one back on June 1.

I just have to go off about this a little. See that cinder block at the corner of our booth?

We used to spend half the year up around Cut Bank, so we know about wind. Livingston is right up there also, although miraculously it was actually quite nice on the opener, 6/1. I'd been wondering about this, but arrived to only a mild breeze. Which can still take an awning like ours above completely airborne!

But most fortunately the folks from the Western Sustainability Exchange, who put on this Market are up on these things, and graciously loaned us a couple of cinder blocks and some rope.

I've brought our own since, although was having misgivings about adequacy when I left for Livingston yesterday afternoon. Solo, as Kim was baking. Right about then, 2:00 PM or so, the wind started howling here in the Valley of the Flowers, somewhat of a rarity. The National Weather Service still thought Livingston wouldn't be as bad, though, and since I wanted to stop by the Town & Country Grocery there anyway to pitch our oil (the two Bozeman T&C's are setting records!) I decided to take a chance on it.

Which I was having grave misgivings about, especially when the "dangerous crosswinds" sign was lit up along the Interstate prior to Livingston. These concerns had not let up when I pulled up to the superb market site at Sacagawea Park, along the Yellowstone. Our booth neighbor, Laurie, and an intern were setting up their canopy. With grim determination, so I wandered over to the "office" and noted their canopy was down. And then learned it had been crunched. Literally tossed and bent. But since I was there already, decided to forego canopies & take my chances, a decision reaffirmed when the canopy of another nearby booth, securely anchored to the vendor's truck bumper, also began to levitate, resulting in widespread alarm!

So everyone bagged their canopies, and thank God I was able to get some greatly appreciated sunscreen from the neighbors. Because aside from that, it actually went quite well. We cover our tables with buffalo robes, which I thought would be fairly immune to wind gusts. Not completely, I now know, though. But aside from the occasional gust, there was very good turnout, steady traffic & decent live music and it was fun!

Turning back the clock again, though, as the month went on the Tuesday and Saturday Markets fired up, and then in one day (the day we finally got it in Rosauer's) Kim scored a coup with lining up a pile of in-store demo's. In fact counting Farmer's Markets and in-store demos, not counting since this past Sunday, we'd done thirteen events in fourteen days. And although we're kinda tired, I have to say that was fun also.

It goes beyond that, though. Years ago I saved a essay from Big Sandy, MT organic pioneer Bob Quinn, "Why I am an Organic Farmer". There's many striking points in that article, but the following paragraph has stuck with me since.

"Best of all, I sometimes receive letters and words of appreciation from
my customers. I shall never forget the first time a lady came up to me
at a food show, warmly shook my hand, and, looking me straight in
the eye, said, “Thank you, thank you for growing the food my family
eats.” As a grain grower, I had never received that kind of thanks
before. The local elevator never treated me that way."

That's happened to us a few times in recent days. You talk about encouraging...!! We've had a couple of people call up out of the blue, who'd bought our camelina at the markets or local stores, had been regularly taking flax or fish oils, and are completely enthused with our camelina oil instead. So like Bob, I'm not sure I've ever had anyone call up before and say "thank you for doing what you do".

You gotta like that...

So although I had originally planned on going on about the farming photos above, and could go on at length about my enthusiasm for this organic model, that might be pointless now.

Although I simply cannot resist mentioning one thing. In last month's column I'd mentioned we're experimenting with using camelina meal as a natural fertilizer. Although getting it to feed properly is problematic in my air seeder, lo and behold, the classic possibly 40's John Deere/Van Brunt disc drill feeds it just fine. Over a wide range of application rates, and so... we might even have some data to work off here in a month or two.

I think that's going to about do it for June, though.

Happy New Year!





Although I promised plenty of May flower photos in this column last month, Mother Nature has just not been cooperative. In fact I'd swear she's going menopausal, except there haven't been any hot flashes. On the contrary in fact, it snowed just above us here again over the last couple of days.

Although we did bring in some of Kim's tulips for a dinner bouquet over the weekend, and let's see... other than some dandelions I'd say flowers have been exceedingly scarce as yet.

So hopefully farming photos will suffice, as luckily we have a fair number of those.

One thing I remain amazed at is the difference between farming here in the Bozone, versus up on the Hi-Line (or any number of other places). The window of opportunity for spring seeding is SO much narrower, it's no wonder most farms in the Gallatin weren't all that big, a section or two usually. Versus up in our old neighborhood, where the "normal" sized farm was 2500 acres or so. We had a couple of neighbors that were more up in the 10,000 acre range, though. And then since there's been a couple more up in that 40K range, although... they're mostly Colonies anymore.

There's a few bigger operations here in the Valley of the Flowers, although not by Hi-Line standards. I shudder to think...

The windows of opportunity for field work this spring could nearly be measured in hours. Except I'll go with days, although they could still be counted on Jon Tester's fingers!

Thank God I got my old air seeder and plow back, and a decent 4WD tractor to pull them with. At least we can get over the acres in a hurry now. If I was still doing it with the heirloom '67 Massey and a ten foot plow I'd have gone depressive. Although we are still going to break that out, for seeding a bit of peas if nothing else. To my surprise, I discovered my air seeder won't do peas. Smaller, lighter seeds work fine, and we used to blow quite a bit of fertilizer through it also, but peas... no way.

Oh, well. I'm not very enthused about peas anymore. I'll probably still seed a few, although they'll almost certainly get plowed down for a green "manure" nitrogen boost. Unless Mother Nature decides that winter will be behind schedule also. So if you hear anything about that let me know. Otherwise, I'm not betting on it.

At least I am enthused, moreso all the time, about interseeding clover as an organic nitrogen source.

The photo above is a field that was seeded to quinoa last year, interseeded with clover. Clover is a biennial, and doesn't get very big the first year. Although last fall it was coming on strong, and remarkably suppressed cheatgrass in this field. In fact I walked through it this past Saturday, & I don't think there's any cheatgrass at all out there... Not in that field, at least. But look at that clover! It's taking off like mad. In fact I may leave that field to harvest for seed. Ordinarily you'd plow it down for a significant nitrogen boost, and I will do that with most of ours.

We're also experimenting with using camelina meal as a natural fertilizer. And who knows, it even appears to have weed suppression capabilities. We've noticed that camelina fields tend to be cleaner the next year, & ...! Wouldn't that be something.

We're also glad to be almost back to Farmer's Market season. In fact the Livingston one starts tomorrow, and the Bogert market next Tuesday. And then the Saturday market fires up 6/18. Before you know it, it'll be July, and we're planning to also do the Big Sky market, at least occasionally.

So we're looking forward to that. There's no markets in later April through May, so you'd think it would have been a vacation!

No way, though. Although I must admit that tractor driving can actually be kind of fun, at least if you're getting over the acres hasta pronto. And then on the rainy days it's back to bookwork, most recently detailed monthly profit-loss projections a couple years out for BiOmega3 and even more recently actually got a Business Plan down on paper. I would never admit to bookwork being fun, although that may have approached it.

And now it's supposed to be plumb nice, for at least the first few days of June. Hopefully it won't warm up too quick, particularly for those in floodplains. Mother Nature's mood seems to be improving, though, and let's hope that's contagious!



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