Meteorologists are echoing what we feel in our bones: the rainy season is over and we are onto another year of drought. The vibrant grassland greens are fading into echoes of verdancy, patches in huge fields of growing tawny gray. Cow tongues reach far, pulling at the remaining food previously protected along fencelines and hard to reach places. Poppies pop out and lupines poke up from the short stubble and rocky places. The springs and creeks still flow but will soon be slowing. The redwoods are in for another sorry year and are collectively crossing their needles for a bounty of fog should a warm summer ever arrive. The days are breezy and cool, the nights downright chilly.
During my short walk at dusk, I startled a big covey of quail- at least 50 whirring out of the cover crop and bumbling into the brush then taking off again and packing into the thick foliage of a fencline oak where they will bundle up for the night. Quail are ‘chi-ca-go’ -ing again but are wanting for drinking water.
A hawk wheeled overhead.
We missed the ‘chock’ -ing of hundreds of robins or the whistling wings of hundreds of mourning doves- both downhill progression patterns at dusk, but of previous seasons. Dusk tonight was less momentous.
Early Spring(like) Flowers
The cover crop is blooming a good bit early. We plant mustard as a quick growing cover crop that captures nutrients that would otherwise leave the system. Mustard plants produce compounds that clear the soil from pathogens. The flowers are bright yellow and support many early season pollinators, helping to spur their population growth in anticipation of the many crop flowers that will follow.
Radish is related to mustard, both being in the cabbage family. Radish is in full bloom in the fallow areas and hayfields; it is starting to seed. The onset of radish seeding is the trigger for the ‘first mow’ of the hay fields: mowing with the first radish seeds is the right time to keep songbirds from investing in nesting where we want to harvest mulch.
I originally published this post at my blog on Molino Creek Farm’s webpage.