All Hail Hail

Hail doesn't think about who has been good and who has been bad. Hail may decide to wipe out your neighbor's fields, but leave yours untouched, or vice versa. There seems to be no rhyme or reason for where hail hits and how much damage it does. Sometimes it's a benevolent God and other times a wrathful one.

We've been fortunate this year. Hail has wiped out friend's gardens in Lewistown and ripped through greenhouse plastic and shattered windows in Bozeman. Other areas in Montana have been hit just as hard. We avoided it until a few weeks ago when it started to hail and all I could do was pray that the teeny-tiny ice balls bouncing on the ground didn't get any bigger or come down harder. Thankfully, they didn't.

Ice ball daintily resting on a leaf.

A couple evenings ago, when our friends Patrick and Abby were visiting, we were standing outside our rental house in Conrad admiring the dark clouds swirling overhead when it started to rain...then hail...then hail harder...then hail larger. We all ran out to the car to drive to the farm, because as Court noted, if it's going to destroy our crops, we may as well get to watch it. We started to drive, but I got worried about the car's windshield, so we waited briefly under a tree before heading out to the farm. By the time we got there, the hail had stopped. The damage was thus: a few holes in a few leaves. Once again, we'd dodged a bullet. Or a few hundred thousand bullets. Thank you, God.

Bean leaf window.

Chard with more ventilation.

Weeds? What Weeds?

We've got weeds. Or, more accurately, the weeds got us. Most days it's too much for two people, or even three or four, depending on our help. Plus, we easily prioritize other things over weeding and this is the result:

The garlic. Yes, the garlic.

The garlic, after crawling, pulling, cursing.

Some beds are better than others, but nobody can ever say we don't grow a good crop of wild mustard, lambsquarter, and mallow.

A July truck farm.

Field Crop Update

Just a quick field crop update.

I plowed down the peas yesterday evening. Despite the fact it looked like a field of mustard, I did plant peas and they were there underneath all that yellow. They hadn't yet flowered, but it was a matter of either waiting for them to flower (and maximize the amount of nitrogen they would fix) and let the mustard go to seed, or work the field before the mustard goes to seed and get whatever nitrogen the peas had fixed up until now. I chose the latter. There will still be some good nitrogen, and look at all that plant matter!

Disked peas.

The lentils are starting to flower. It's been cool recently, so we've been lucky. If heat hits while they're flowering, it'll be hard on the lentils.

Lentil flowers.

The Sonora wheat is tillering nicely.

Sonora wheat.

The barley is beginning to form heads. When you slice open the stalk, you can see the beginning stages.

Baby barley head.

A Shot in the Arm

Eric harvesting vegetables in his handy-dandy bullet-proof vest and combat helmet.

Our good friend Eric over at Groundworks Farm was shot yesterday while harvesting vegetables for his and his wife Audra's CSA members. Some idiots were "hunting" gophers (were they planning on eating them?) and apparently fired multiple shots with their semi-automatic .22 rifles into Eric and Audras' high tunnel. There were numerous people at the farm, including children, yet somehow the trigger-giddy failed to notice. The bullet entered and exited his arm around his elbow, luckily missing any nerves or bones. When I spoke to him this morning, he was out harvesting for farmers' market. Now there's a warrior.

Access to land, capital, equipment - beginning farmers face numerous obstacles. Dodging bullets and access to flak jackets certainly wasn't on my list.
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