Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 8-21

sunrise over a cornfield
The Boss says I’m a pessimist.

Personally, I prefer realist…

But, I admit, I am generally the one seeing the glass half empty. I’m the one to see the problems before the solutions. And, I struggle with being upbeat when things keep going wrong.

So, this week has been a challenge.

It’s been one long stretch of “good news/bad news”.  For every good thing that happened, some other problem seemed to arise. One step forward, two steps back. No, maybe it was two steps forward and just one backward.

Whatever.

It’s going to take some serious mathematics to figure out which side ended up in the lead.

After Sunday began with the discovery of the chick massacre, (in case you missed last week's "walkabout...go back and read it here.) it was really (really) hard to get focused on anything else. I truly despise wanton loss of life and without knowing the real cause we could only hope we had solved the problem. We had some pretty good leads, the Boss did a repair job. But still, it nagged at the corners of my mind all day. I’m pretty sure the Boss was worrying over it too, but he generally keeps his worries to himself.

However, it was Mr. B’s birthday party…and we couldn’t be down for that! 

he sure was having FUN!
It’s hard to believe that we hadn’t even met the little dude at this point last year and here we were headed out to his “epic" FIRST birthday party.

awesome cake

proud mama and daddy

hmmm,do I want more cake?

PRESENTS!

I think it’s safe to say that everyone had a great time. And, I’m totally jealous of some of the toys they have today. (pretty sure I need to start my second childhood)
Blake and Meemaw

ooooh, cupcake...I love you...

WHAT cupcake?
the "red-neck" kiddie pool was a big hit!


I guess I won’t tell you that by the end of the week a number of people were sick…that would be too much of a “Debbie Downer” kind of thing, right?  But, the Boss and I have been spared, so maybe that’s good news?

Before we left for the birthday party, the Boss spent a fair amount of time securing the brooder against the midnight marauder. He thought he had secured everything. Then, Pap suggested a weasel…uh oh.  While the evidence pointed directly to a RAT, but I couldn’t relax into that one. So, you know where I went when we got home. The brooder.

As Gus and I checked around, I felt something prick my finger. Suddenly, there was fire on the back of my hand. I flailed around and realized that I had inadvertently discovered a wasp nest. The good news, somehow the Boss had escaped it during his repair work. The bad news? I had a very swollen, very sore finger going into the work week. However, the entire thing would turn out to be a score for the good later in the week.

While I was doing the whole town run on Monday, the Boss managed to contact a hatchery that promised to ship chicks this week…so, things were looking up.

Right?

Not so fast.

Of the five chicks, I could only find four…

I didn’t really have time to worry over that. It was getting hotter and more humid by the minute and all the picking was waiting for me. But, the weeds were threatening to swallow me every time I headed into certain areas of the garden, and they were dripping with moisture from the excessive humidity. A trip to the garden required a change of clothes later…and I think algae is growing on my jeans. Apparently, zucchini can grow on humidity alone…the enormous ones (that are unsaleable) seemed to outnumber the “normal” sized ones. 

Then, there are the tomatoes…

this is everything a tomato should be
(except a BLT, and that's where this is headed)
August means big, beautiful heirloom tomatoes. Except this year. Early blight, excessive heat, intermittent and heavy rainfall and the slugs (!) have all taken their toll on one of our sure-fire successes. And, I forgot the stinkbugs aren’t helping anything. There are lots of tomatoes that cannot go to the Market because of some sort of damage, either cracks or blemishes or holes. What a bummer!
sad tomatoes

In our search for good news, I must point out that those poor, sad tomatoes worked into a huge pot of beautiful sauce!
tomato sauce ready for canning


And, somewhere in the midst of picking, my Leatherman died a sad and tragic death.

it's really NOT supposed to open like this
That was serious BAD NEWS...but, happily the company has an awesome warranty program and I had an "emergency back-up" to use in the meantime. Did you read  this one?

But, forget the chicks, forget the garden, don't think about tools---we had another pressing job to do.

Once a year, the Boss “shoots” the R’ham fair. Check out these entries.

This job is a change of pace, a fun way to be creative and get a paycheck. After five years, it is also becoming challenging to see things from a different perspective.
a boy and his goat

a girl and her calf

beef butts

just chillin' at the fair

clipping a lamb

clipping a goat

goat shenanigans

fair week is hard work

milking cows at the fair

prize-winning onions

ready for the show

tired hog

Honestly, I always leave the fair with a mix of emotions. The heat of the summer, the stress of the show and the constant interaction between townies and country all seem to make for some seriously grumpy folks. Honestly, I didn’t feel the love of the Ag community this week. (and it wasn’t just the fair…) 


Don't think this mama was too happy



But, the Boss was quite happy with the images we captured, so GOOD NEWS! (hopefully, the fair management will be happy as well)

However, by the next morning, the four remaining chicks were dead as well. Looks like bad news is back in the lead...

It was obviously the same varmint. But, we were so sure the brooder was secured. We were totally stymied.

securing the brooder
The Boss went on the warpath. He was bound and determined to make that brooder safe. He crawled underneath and climbed inside. (it was a good thing I “discovered” that wasp nest…he was able to eradicate that so he didn’t have to get stung as well) He scraped all the shavings (used for bedding) free and peered beneath them. He applied hardware cloth and screwed the side walls down tight. And, finally, he discovered the problem! Up along the doorway was a gap. Apparently, the rat had crawled up the wire door, dropped down into the brooder, had supper and escaped. There were piles of rat poop as evidence. But, NO more!

filling the gap


And, just in time! The chicks were supposedly going to ship a day early. They would be here SOON!

Oh, by the way…something has been eating the winter squash. No. Not just nibbling around the edges. No. I am not exaggerating. There were big bites taken out of most of the squashes I could see and the leaves were eaten, too. This is getting overwhelmingly discouraging.

Of course that meant that “someone” had to do “something” to protect that crop too…
well, this can't be good...


A deep sigh and an eye roll toward Heaven all around and the Boss set out to correct something else.

All the while it’s hotter than…well, hot. I don’t know if the heat makes everything seem unbearable or unbearable things make it seem hotter. No matter the case, having sweat dripping into your eyes when you’re working does nothing for your attitude or the work at hand. The atmosphere around here was testy and tense and generally not the most pleasant. We’ve both been tired and hot and discouraged…finding the good in anything was really becoming a challenge. And, personally I felt like I was failing miserably. But, there is little choice but to soldier on.

little holes eaten in each seed
The rest of the week was a battle with critters…something ate every spinach seed I planted, despite all the precautions I took. Why the spinach? The arugula seedlings are popping up quite nicely. But, I have the worst time with spinach. And, of course, SPINACH is the one crop that everyone asks me about all the time. Then the flea beetles have feasted on the arugula time and time again. And, we won’t even mention the harlequin beetles in the brassica crops. …and the looper moths and some fat green caterpillars are making for some hole-y greens…

arugula seedlings

But, I spent some quality time in the greenhouse…and in a couple of weeks we should be ready to plant again. By then it will be cooler (hopefully) and maybe the spinach will be more successful.

broilers doing what they do best
...eating
The chicks arrived with from the hatchery without incident. Some of them spent the night in the brooder while the rest spent the night in the chickie-pool in the greenhouse as a precaution to see if we were actually successful in our rat-proofing. But, the greenhouse has its own set of security issues, so following a safe night in the brooder, the flock was reunited. And, in the super good news category…they were still safe in the morning.
safe and sound

…and in beyond super good news…I caught a RAT! (one down…)
I was actually glad to see a rat at 5am
(in the trap)





















Before we knew it, it was indeed time for the Market again.

picking beans

pepper harvest

picking zucchini
(with my back-up Leatherman)

Friday night brought a big storm and we got a half-inch of rain. After another week of excessively high temperatures, it was incredibly welcome. I’m pretty sure the pastures greened up overnight! And, despite the forecast, the storms held off for the rest of the morning, so rain wasn’t an issue for Market.
full market stand...

The Market was quite busy, the band was excellent, and the sales were good. Sometimes it astounds me just how much we can manage to produce in a week…just two old folks…


The Boss was "memorialized" in chalk at the Market...
that just made me laugh


All in all…

I guess we can agree on this…that despite all the “issues” of the week…it was a pretty good one and ended on a positive note...


...and, this glass is definitely full!

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

Thanks for stopping by!

Come by and “visit” again real soon.



Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 8-14


It’s been a long, hot week.

And, before anybody feels it necessary to point out that it’s actually hotter elsewhere… I know.  
  
heat index near 100* all week


But, hot or not, we got a lot done this week. And, I was set to tell you all about it.

…and then I saw the Boss coming back from the brooder with a very strange look on his face.

“I feel awful!”

Why?

“Almost all the chicks are dead. It’s got to be my fault. I feel awful.”

The chicks are DEAD?

Yep.

All but five.

WHAT? How?

Yesterday, upon my return from the market, in the sweltering heat, I found the door to the brooder had blown shut. (the brooder is a fairly tight building with constant light for heat) Fearing the worst, I hurriedly opened the door and the window. While the little chicks were definitely hot, none had succumbed. Later, they looked to have made a complete recovery.

But, now he said they were dead? What was it…some sort of delayed reaction?

Further investigation revealed that it was NOT the heat. There had been a rat attack. There was evidence that a rat had burrowed in and had an incredible late-night chicken supper. It took a couple bites out of each chick and moved on to the next one.

that little chewed hole and a bunch of rat scat were the only telltale signs
(I'll spare you photos of the carnage)

From a healthy broiler crop last night to scene of total carnage this morning…

Just like that.

*sigh*

And, there wasn't a  thing we could do but clean up the mess and wait until Monday morning when we can contact the hatchery to see if we can get some replacement chicks in the next week. Otherwise we’re just out of luck (and out of any broiler sales…and income) until we receive our last scheduled batch in September.

That’s certainly NOT the way you want to start the day. But, especially not a Sunday morning…

However…

It is what it is.

Proof that Toby Keith was right (again) when he wrote “it’s a hard, hard way to make an easy living!” Click here to watch.

Now, where was I when I got distracted?

Like I said, despite the heat, we did get a lot done.

It was another week of chickens, we processed broilers and moved broilers. Everything was finally falling into place with the broiler part of the operation after our tough start to the season. That’s why this morning’s disaster was so frustrating. Sorry, I can’t seem to shake that one.

On to other things…

We got a good number of fall brassicas planted.  It just takes a little teamwork.
fertilizing 

planting


And, despite the extreme heat and lack of precipitation, they are doing quite well. (the Boss did have to put t-tape down) The plan is to get the rest of the plants in the ground this week, along with the last succession planting of summer squash (which may…or may not…have time to mature before cold weather sets in)



In the ongoing struggle to maintain some sort of control over the abundance of produce, I finally got around to working up some of the culled cucumbers. So now I have relish and pickles sitting all over the kitchen counter. There are jars of squash, pizza sauce and green beans on the front porch. But, at least it’s a change from giant zucchinis.

canned pizza sauce, squash and beans

pickles and relish

I also made up a new recipe
this was YUMMY!



















The Market was sweltering. But, all in all it was a good day.

most of this was gone by noon

Then, it was off to start the “weekend of birthdays”.  


If you haven’t been here long, August is quite the month…read this one...  Toughchick decided that she would forego the traditional homegrown, home-made menu if everyone would come over and help them with a fence project. While we didn’t actually get any fencing done…we did eat cake and have some fun. (but no pics of the "birthday girl")





And, another generation has been introduced to the Boss’ “magic” tricks. Oh, you should have heard the giggles!





















So much for our week on the hill.

Happy Sunday! 

Thanks for stopping by. Come “visit” again real soon. 


...and here's to having an uplifting, upcoming week.