You’re not going to believe this. We don’t quite believe it ourselves.
A few weeks ago we noticed that something odd was going on in our field of Dream Rye. Shoots were disappearing and being overtaken by grass. At first, it seemed like no big deal. The changes were subtle. But the shoots continued dying and the grass spread even further. Eventually we lost nearly all 20 acres of the Dream Rye we planted just a few months ago.
This is what happened.
A banana slug. Photo courtesy Oregon State Extension Service.
Field slugs ate almost the entire crop. Maybe it was the banana slug pictured above. Maybe it was the leopard slug, another variety that’s common to the area. We don’t know and we don’t care. We are fed up with slugs.
What the field of Dream Rye looks like today. It should be filled with bright green shoots of rye.
This is not our only slugfest. When we planted our first crop of Dream Rye back in 2011, it too was eaten away by slugs. The shoots were barely out of the ground when they attacked and ate everything in less than 24 hours. Back then we joked that because gardeners use beer to kill slugs, the slugs were getting even. But that was a small patch of rye. This year it was 20 acres and we are not so amused.
To fans of our Rye Whiskey and Roguenbier Rye Ale, we are not giving up. We’ll be back.
Look at what we found in the mail today, an article about the rebirth of rye whiskey featuring Brewmaster John Maier and Rogue Farms Oregon Rye Whiskey.
We admit to having a soft spot in our hearts for rye. It’s a hardy little grain that has never gotten the kind of respect that’s been afforded to barley, wheat and corn. Rye will grow under amazingly adverse conditions, but that toughness also gives rye an edgy, spicy flavor. It’s nice to see that craft spirits fans are starting to appreciate rye as much as we do.
Our Rogue Farms Dream Rye will be harvested in summer, floor malted and micro-malted at our Farmstead Malt House in Tygh Valley, then mashed, fermented, brewed and distilled at our Brewery and Distillery in Newport into our next batches of Oregon Rye Whiskey and Roguenbier Rye Ale. Open a bottle and taste for yourself the unique flavor of the Rogue of grains.
Here’s what two week old whiskey really looks like.
With a big winter storm headed our way to Rogue Farms in Independence,Oregon, we took advantage of a few days of decent weather to plant 20 acres of Dream Rye.
You’re looking at what might be the last field of rye left in Oregon.
This is the 20 acre field where we’ll plant our 2014 crop of Rogue Farms Dream Rye. We plowed the field this week.
When the soil dries out some more we’ll finish up with discing and harrowing it.
Plowing the field of Dream Rye. Note the soggy soil in the middle of the photo.
One of the things we learned when we started growing rye is that rye farming has all but disappeared in the state. A couple of years ago there were only 250 acres of it – all down in Southern Oregon in Lake County. In 2013, rye farming in Oregon had shrunk so small that the government stopped publishing the numbers.
The plowed field.
So just like our barley and our hops, we learned that if we wanted to ensure a steady supply of rye, we better grow it ourselves. As agri-fermenters of craft beverages, we like knowing where our ingredients come from, how they were cultivated and how they were harvested.
John Maier inspecting the Dream Rye last summer.
Our commitment to growing our own doesn’t stop with the harvest. This year’s crop of Dream Rye will be trucked to our Farmstead Malt House in Tygh Valley, Oregon where we will floor malt it and micro malt it by hand in small, artisan batches.
John at last year’s harvest where he raked the swathed rye into windrows.
Dream Rye is just one of the ingredients in our proprietary palate of flavors we grow at Rogue Farms. John Maier will use this year’s crop to craft future batches of Roguenbier Rye Ale and to mash a Rye Whiskey.
Growing and malting your own isn’t the easiest way to make beers and spirits, but we think it’s the best way. You can taste the difference in every bottle and glass.
Please join us at Rogue Farms this spring for the planting season!
Mother Nature sure knows how to keep us on our toes!
We had just started harvesting our barley in Tygh Valley (see story here) when – wouldn’t you know it – the Dream Rye we grow in Independence was ripe and ready.
Two major harvests at the same time? Let’s get to work.
The arrival of turkey chicks is always a surprise here at Rogue Farms. They just show up one day, seemingly out of nowhere.
That has to do with the secretive habits of our hen Juniper. She disappears every now and then, sometimes returning with chicks and sometimes not.
This week, she came back with four cute, tiny fuzzballs.
The wind storm that flattened several acres of our Dream rye field turned out to be nothing more than a harmless blowhard.
A week later and the rye is straightening itself upright. Except for a few spots here and there, we’ll be able to harvest almost all of it.
And the news keeps getting better here at Rogue Farms in Independence, Oregon.
We need rain at Rogue Farms. Days of steady rain last week – with more to come in the forecast – is welcomed after one of the driest spring seasons on record.
But that Saturday hail and wind storm we could have done without, especially after we saw what it did to our Field of Dream Rye.
After some brilliant sunshine, several days of clouds and rain are coming in to the Rogue Farms Hopyard.
We could use the rain. This is one of the driest spring seasons ever.
So here’s where we stand with our four major crops, the very stuff you’ll be drinking soon in a Rogue Farms ale, lager, pilsner, mead and kolsch.