A New Year—Looking Back & Moving Forward

Here we are, not only at the beginning of a brand new year, but also a brand new decade! It hardly seems possible that we are 20 years into the 21st century. There are full-grown adults with no memory of the Y2K scare at the turn of the century, which is little more than a dim memory. I tell my friends I don’t have time to worry about things that might happen in the future because I’m too busy making plans to improve things in the future.

With 2019 past, I have now moved into the third and final year of my retirement plan. And what a year last year! I was unequivocally blessed to complete a life-long goal of mine with the incredible help of Liz Carlisle, and release my book, Grain by Grain. I spent 41 of the 52 weeks in 2019 traveling on a whirlwind book tour that took me all across our beautiful country, with a few amazing excursions overseas. Including an exotic trip to Mongolia, where I was asked to help grain farmers begin to convert their cropping systems to organic production. Stay tuned for more on about that experience later this month!

As you may have guessed, 2019 was by far, the most traveling I have ever done in one year—and will ever do again! Ha! And while my book tour is not quite over (it will officially end in March—one year from the original publishing date), it has certainly been a pleasure thus far. Grain by Grain is now in its third printing and continues to attract interested readers and favorable comments. I cannot easily express how this makes me feel because hopeful and overjoyed hardly seem sufficient.

In an effort to finish strong and continue to spread the word that regenerative, organic agriculture is the only sustainable, healthy future, we are giving away 2 books each month to followers on my Instagram and Facebook pages! So be sure to follow along and share.

Due to the amount of time devoted to my book tour this last year, a couple of the goals I’d made have been delayed, but certainly not forgotten. Specifically, the subterranean greenhouse I want to establish here on the farm, as well as the creation of an organic research center here in Big Sandy, Montana. I now hope to have both up and running by the end of 2021, with most of my other business responsibilities transferred to the next generation by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

My crop research at home was also reduced following the retirement of my longtime friend and research assistant, Wes Gibbs—he will be sorely missed. I was able to continue my winter hardiness trials of khorasan wheat varieties, which I have now narrowed from the 140 lines I started with to just 28. We had a cool, short summer in 2019, so neither my melons, nor my squash, did very well. And my experiment with various compost applications didn’t do well either. However, our potatoes, onions and apples did very well and we continue to enjoy the spoils even in January. And, very encouragingly, we may have some breakthroughs regarding our glyphosate contamination problem by this time next year.

I continue to see progress with my work regarding the food sovereignty program at the nearby Rocky Boy Indian Reservation, where we successfully planted and cared for a large community garden of potatoes, Indian corn, and pumpkins this past year.

Even if I’m unable to finish all my retirement goals by the end of 2020, there will be a lot to celebrate: I have 2 granddaughters graduating high school. Our son, Adam, will be completing his Masters in food science. And we will be commemorating the 100 year anniversary of our farm with a big family reunion this summer.

Filled with gratitude for the blessings of 2019, we start a new year with faith, promise and hope. A very happy and blessed New Year to you and yours!