Anticipating early & late frosts

Learning to understand and predict local weather is a really important skill for properly managing our diversified farm. There are so many ways that weather conditions can hinder or help our work, and general forecasts don’t always cover what we need to know. Case in point,  predicting when we’re going to have a frost in our valley regardless of whether it’s regionally expected.This skill can mean the difference between significant crop loss and success at extending/completing our growing season. You’d never know it from the muggy, high-80s conditions this week, but we saw last week’s three nights of frost coming. Continue reading

Bird list & natural events, April 2014

As one might expect, April threw a little bit of everything at us, from rain & hail to deep freeze to hot dry days to absurdly splendid ones. Lots of birds showing up, lots of animals becoming active, lots of plants and trees springing to life. It’s a good month for photography and outdoor distraction, so this will be a fun photo essay of things we’ve seen as part of our normal lives working the land. Continue reading

Bird list & natural events, March 2014

March continued the cool, dry trend of this winter, useful for getting outdoor work done but of increasing concern for the coming growing season. It turned out to be a nice birding month, with reasonably stable weather making it easier to observe consistently. A month that began with lows below 0 ended with highs around 70, clearing demonstrating the seasonal changes underway as we appreciate the gentle warming of spring. Continue reading

Bird list & natural events, February 2014

Well, wasn’t February fun? Temperatures were seriously cold for all but one brief warmup, the month averaging a good ten degrees below average. Although snowfall was above average due to one major storm, moisture totals were about half average for the second straight month. After the summer of 2012, it makes us nervous to head into a growing season with the ground already abnormally dry. The beginning of March, with record-cold temperatures, is not boding well for getting the CSA off to an early start. Despite all this, we were able to spend a lot of time outdoors this month, as cold & dry conditions are generally great for getting winter logging work done, and were able to observe a lot of interesting bird and wildlife activity. Continue reading

Bird list & natural events, December 2013

December felt like winter, with mostly below-average temperatures and several winter storms that kept us inside doing much-needed office and housework. The significant temperatures swings related to this month’s storms (64ºF to 7ºF, 58ºF to 1ºF) got us thinking about which months in Missouri have the widest possible range of temperatures, which produced an interesting result: Continue reading

Bird list & natural events, November 2013

November was a dry & cool month, with about half the average precipitation and average temperatures below normal. It was a pretty month, with fairly stable weather and lingering fall colors, another in our string of very nice months this fall. We somehow managed to take a few nice photos during the month, despite the intense busy-ness involved in wrapping up the CSA year, hosting Thanksgiving, and myriad other demands on our time. Continue reading

Bird list & natural events, September 2013

September was extraordinarily busy, but also mostly glorious on the weather front. Temperatures were stable to slightly warm, putting off any threat of early and unwanted frost. Though it started as dry as previous months, we finally started receiving meaningful rainfall and ended up above average for the first time since May (4.46″, over the 3.87″ average at the Columbia gage). It’s a measure of just how dry things were, that after receiving 2.76″ overnight in mid-September, our stream never flowed and there were virtually no puddles on the farm. The parched soil and vegetation sucked all the water up as fast as it fell. But this month as a whole positioned us for a lovely fall. Continue reading

Bird list & other natural events, August 2013

August was our third dry month in a row, and with the rising heat by the end of the month it really began to feel like a flashback to last year’s brutal summer. Overall it was a remarkably stable month in terms of weather; very little variation in temperature, few notable weather systems: it was like farming in California, for better and for worse. The days just quietly passed by, crops grew like crazy, and the natural world puttered along. Horseflies grew really intense toward the end of the month, with Joanna killing 42 in one evening’s session of field work, and Eric multiple times killing 4 in one blow on the pigs’ backs. Continue reading