By Independence Day a drought that extended through parts of Minnesota had expanded along the south shore of Lake Superior. The lakeshore from Superior to Chequamegon Bay and Ashland has seen an abnormally dry spring and early summer. Most days have been hot and sunny. Abnormally dry or drought conditions existed in all of Douglas and Bayfield counties in Wisconsin. Considerable rain fell in some areas after July 5; others remained short.

Producers for farm markets are watering where possible. Some field crops touched by frost this past month are under more stress now from drought. Hay baling and chopping continue but some hay yields are light due to dryness. Many farmers celebrated Independence Day by haying. Farmers make hay when the sun shines!

Farm markets, pre-picked and pick-your-own berry farms are open as the season gathers steam. Though the Apple Fest in Bayfield this fall has been canceled, farms are open and produce is available. Strawberries have been abundant. Cherries, both sweet and tart, are available. Farm markets are loaded with lettuce, kale, chard, beets and other fresh vegetables. Fruit preserves, maple syrup and local honey are available. Visit bayfield.org/what-to-do/orchards-berry-farms/orchard-reports for more information.

The hot weather has caused a work slowdown among local hens; some henhouses are rumored to be displaying hatchets in nest areas for inspiration. Will those “get tough” tactics increase egg production, or lead to unrest and needless bloodshed? Time will tell.

In some areas wild berries are drying prior to ripening. It promises to be a hungry summer for bears and jam-makers who depend upon such wild bounty. Wild roses are blooming; elderberries are ripe. Green herons have now fledged. Woodpeckers and bald eagles nesting along the Lake Superior shore are looking forward to their young taking flight soon.

Farmers are grateful to have customers at farm markets, farm stores, roadside stands and pick-your-own farms. Still the huge influx of out-of-state license plates as the rate of COVID-19 infection increases in the nation has many worried about spreading disease and another lockdown. All are hopeful people adjust to pandemic hygiene practices, allowing for commerce while keeping people safe. We are seeing some people make the adjustment but we are seeing others who have not.

Jason Maloney from Washburn in northern Wisconsin lives between Lake Superior and the orchards and farms of Bayfield County. The retired soldier and educator grew up on a family farm in Marinette County.