Bird list & natural events, July 2014

July was extraordinarily cool, especially as compared to the blast furnace of 2012. As pleasant as the working conditions were, it was also quite dry (less than 1/3 average rainfall) and we’re quickly re-entering the drought conditions that so worried us earlier in the year. You can clearly see this in the annual precip graph for Columbia, maintained by NWS, which shows how we’ve flirted with drought all year (other than one dousing in early April) and are now something like 4″ under average since the rain shut off in early July. We can see the vegetation transitioning to that yellow-tinged hue of dry summers, and the ground is rock-hard with cracks showing through. Still, a lot of neat things were happening in our ecosystem, as this month’s photos document. Continue reading

Bird list & natural events, June 2014

June was a month of glorious weather, the temperatures comfortably average and the rainfall just right. We will need to remind ourselves of just how pleasant this stretch was, when the true heat of summer arrives. How often does it actually rain about once a week and roughly an inch +/- at a time? Only quibble was with the timing, which often made it too wet for our Sunday morning crew to help with hoeing. Both crops and weeds grew very well, so we were quite busy. We did, however, take a little time for photography, so there are lots of pictures this month.

Continue reading

Bird list & natural events, May 2014

May was mostly warm & dry, finishing a few degrees above normal and with only about 2/3 normal rainfall (most of which fell early in the month). Obscured in the warm average was the major cold snap mid-month, in which we suffered three nights of frost and much of the northern half of Missouri set record lows. Last May was quite different, logging an awful 12″ of rain and more moderate temperatures. Compared to that, we’ll take the overly dry conditions, but it’s still of great concern that we’ve had below-average rainfall every month since October (save April). There’s just no pleasing farmers in a Missouri May. Continue reading

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