Grasshoppers and Barley

I think the grasshoppers really like my barley trials. I have about a dozen different heritage barley varieties that I'm trialing and a couple of the varieties are either knocked over or the heads are completely missing. As I walk by them, a zillion grasshoppers take to the sky which is what gave me a clue. Grrrr.

Bent barley.

Eaten Barley.

The remains of a head of barley.

One variety was close enough to harvest, so I did so with scissors. The other variety getting annihilated is still really green so there is not much I can do.

Harvested heritage barley.

Whitefish Farmers' Market

The Farm headed west for our first Whitefish Farmers' Market. We're experimenting this summer with setting up at farmers' market and peddling our organic heritage and ancient grains.

It was a good trip. We met a lot of curious people and a few even bought some of our grain. There is such a buzz around both local grains, and heritage and ancient varieties, I think it'll just take bit of time before people get to know us and get to know what we have to offer. We'll head back over the divide in two weeks - August 23rd.


We can't forget about the beauty in what we do.

Summer Squash:



And a happy child with her chard:

Check out more vegetable portraiture at our Facebook page:


An apology to our Great Falls shareholders. We were in such a mad rush last Thursday that we didn't get a chance to get you your weekly newsletter. So here it is:

Dear Shareholders,

Lookey here! The winter squash is flowering in a trumpet-like fashion, as if it say: Bum bum bum bum! We're here! You WILL have butternut after all!

And, just to warn you, the zucchini – the green, the 8-ball, the Magda and the yellow, they're coming. And they're coming in large quantities.

In time, dear garden watchers, in time.

For now though, our favorite way to get rid of a lot of that kale in your bag:

Kale Chips

1 head kale, washed and thoroughly dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
Remove the ribs from the kale and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Lay on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and salt. Bake until crisp, turning the leaves halfway through, about 20 minutes. Serve as finger food.
Your Farmers,
Jacob, Courtney and Willa Cowgill

P.S. Don't forget...
Saturday, August 13: Volunteer day

Saturday, September 10: 2nd Annual CSA Appreciation day

P.PS. Don't forget to follow along on our blog at and follow us on Facebook by liking our page:

Another Loss

You win some, you lose some, and sometimes you move something from the win column to the lose column (don't count your chickens before they hatch).

Thursday morning I wandered out into the milk thistle to see if the ground was dry after the flood irrigation session the week before. About 15 students from the University of Montana's PEAS Farm program were coming for a visit and Farmer Josh had promised his students would put in a couple hours of work. I was dreaming of them swarming the milk thistle and weeding it clean. Turns out all the plants were dead.

Never ever ever flood irrigate milk thistle. They do not like standing water. Their roots will rot and they will die. I walked the entire 960 foot length of the field saying, "no no no no no no". I would have cried if I'd allowed myself to. Instead I lay face down in the grass at the end of the field and just mourned. It ate at me for days after and it wasn't until Sunday late in the day that I finally accepted it.

I was looking for the win in the situation and couldn't find it. So then I looked for the silver lining and all I could come up with was I won't have to harvest the seed which is labor intensive. So I won't have to worry about that anymore.

Today on my way to the milk thistle, I stopped by the spot I'd planted milk thistle two years ago where some volunteer plants had come up this spring. I weeded around them since they are my best hope for any seed and they actually look great. There are not a lot of plants, but some. Then, in this year's crop, I found that many of the plants that I thought were dead, may not be. They are very much set back and may not actually produce any seed. Their bottom leaves are brown, but there are some green leaves on top and some with a seed head (though probably from before the irrigation disaster).

Back to the students - we did not go out into the milk thistle. I didn't even tell them about it. Instead I set them on the onions which desperately needed weeding. After they'd clear out the beds in a matter of hours (what would have taken me days), the poor onions looked so sad and tiny and droopy, if they were there at all. Too little, too late. Another loss.

I have to admit I'm ready for winter. I was pretty optimistic this spring, especially after quitting my job and dedicating myself to my family and the farm. Now, I'm far less optimistic and I just want to start over. But one can't do that in farming. You have to fight it out until then end, like walking up a fast moving river.

There will be wins this year, and even some that I don't see right now. At least that's what I'm telling myself.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...