Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Walkabout 9-28

Can you believe it’s nearly October?
first day of fall '14

If possible, this past week flew by even more quickly than the weeks before it.
first sunset of autumn

Since this week started off with our anniversary, we…well, we did the same kind of stuff we do every day.  Sorry not to be more exciting, but such is the life on the farm. The Boss is quick to say that we did indeed go out to lunch last Saturday after market, and we did, and it was nice. 
There has been a nip in the air of late, and the sight of turning leaves up on the ridge means that all time is getting short for all those fall harvest/clean-up jobs.  The winter squash was job #1 for this week.

But….first…the farm truck had to go to the shop for a new muffler. 

Vehicle work is a major pain.  I mean, I’m really glad someone can keep our geriatric truck on the road, and I don’t mind paying them for a job well done. But, it does mean numerous trips to town and that part is disruptive. But, the truck is fixed and the new muffler sounds “sweet”.  …and it only took six trips on Mbrook Road!

Back to the squash. 

 We clipped all the squash from the vines and left them in the field to “bleed” until the next day.  The winter squash have a lot of sticky sap and by letting them cure in the field, the sap dries and it’s easier to clean the squash for sale. They also keep better in storage if they are dry and cured.

The next afternoon, we loaded the squash in the tractor bucket and hauled them to the barn.  It took a number of trips. There, we stood all the squashes in the trailer.  They will stay here until they are cleaned and taken to Market for sale. It was a good squash year!

Butternut squash chunks are a bestseller

On our walk out to the squash, we saw an enormous groundhog running through the garden.  He disappeared into what was left of the corn.  With a little detective work, we discovered a HUGE groundhog hole right in the middle of the corn.  Remember the attack on the corn? It was an inside job!  There was even a corn cob at the entrance to the hole.  We will have to come up with some creative approach to next year’s corn crop. I tell you, it’s always somethin’!
this gives no sense of scale
take my word for's BIG
see the corn cob?

Since it has been so dry, the grass is not growing at all.  While some farmers are already feeding hay, that is definitely not an option for us. That meant it was time for the Boss to open the creek paddock for the sheep.  After checking the fenceline and doing a little bushhogging, the sheep were turned out on new grass. They couldn’t seem to decide which stuff to eat first!
from parched, dry grass

to lush, green goodness

grazing near the creek

bushhogging the corn
The Boss spent a lot of time bushhogging this week.  First, he knocked down the tops of the fall potatoes and after we harvested the squash, he mowed over that garden, too.  By taking the tops off the potatoes, it will allow the tubers under the ground to toughen slightly for winter storage.  We will get to that harvest job soon…hopefully before it frosts.  At some point he will plow the back garden and possibly plant a cover crop. But, it’s much too dry for that right now.

cut potato plant

potatoes underneath

During our weekly hoophouse work-day, I discovered that we had several unexpected and unwanted “water features” in our irrigation system.  While little water fountains are pretty, they were making a serious mess. This was also playing havoc with the efficiency of the irrigation.  I reckon we can fix the irrigation when we give the hoophouse a “facelift” soon. Just another couple of jobs on the “before the snow flies” to-do list.

Lest you think I am overly anxious for cold weather, I’m not.  But, the trees are really showing signs of fall.  The mornings have been quite cool and damp. And while we could really use some rain, I think the dry conditions are going to make for some gorgeous fall colors.The leaves on the maple in the backyard are already starting to turn and fall.  It won’t be too long until our view out to Mbrook Road is unobstructed once more.  I can’t believe it!
looking out over Mbrook Road

pretty leaves in the backyard
Ellie thought it made her look more attractive

Gus just thought it looked tasty!

Like I said, the week flew by. It seemed like we had just finished one week’s market and it was time for another.  Another great Market!  It has been an amazing Market year and we still have 8 more weeks.

After the Market, we headed out to Tbone and Blondie’s for a family celebration of our 30th anniversary.  As always, it was a time of good food and good times with family and a super yummy pumpkin maple cheesecake.  We were presented with a hand-crafted scrapbook of our lives together.  It’s beautiful!  Thank you.  But, I think the stories of the girls “adventures” to…shall we say…"acquisition"the photos..was hilarious.  I don’t think you can call it breaking and entering…or hacking…when it involves your family…but, then again…

All I can say is…I am touched.  I’m glad to say that these 5+ folks have made the past 30 years quite an adventure and I’m really glad that they are my life.  

Love you all!

And, there you have it.  Another week on the hill.

Happy Sunday!

Thanks for stopping by!  Hope you’ll visit us again real soon.

Monday, September 22, 2014

From This Day Forward

 10,957 days

That’s a lot of days.

30 years’ worth, to be exact.

30 years ago today, in the sweltering September heat, in front of family and friends…the Boss and I promised

to love and to hold
from this day forward,
for better or for worse,
for richer or for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish until death do us part.

As we walked back down the aisle as husband and wife, the Boss pumped his fist in the air at his work buddies sitting in the back row.    

“from this day forward” had just begun…

In the past 10,957 days---

We’ve had our fair share of good days.

There have been some long days.

We’ve spent countless days working/waiting through house construction. THREE different times!

We’ve had some hard days…

This place was just an abandoned sheep field when we purchased it.

We’ve had some really scary days.

That whole “in sickness and in health thing”…

We’ve had some amazing days.

It was exciting to welcome babies,


 watch them grow and learn and turn into grown-ups almost overnight.
Betsy and Josh - 2009

Amanda and Tyler - 2010

We’ve had some very distressing, hurtful and sad days.

But, today I choose to gloss over those.

We’ve had fun days, weird days…there have been days that were just plain exhausting, silly, confusing, exciting, challenging and successful, to name a few.

Let’s face it…we’ve just had a LOT of days.

We’ve worked side by side (without any major mishap OR too many arguments) for 6,267 of those days. In the past 17+years here on the hill, we have only been apart for two days. That fact, in and of itself, is somewhat astonishing to me. (and I’m guessing the Boss is sorta surprised, too)

We never set out thinking of a number of days as a goal.  It has always been just one day at a time. A whole lot of times.

 …from this day forward…

After all those days, one might think that we would be full of sage advice to those starting out or for those struggling to maintain. I could ramble on and on about love and respect…and working together. But, there’s not much to say that I haven’t already written. Please click on the words to see what I’ve written about TEAMWORK... being CO-WORKERS,  and how our life together has been a long and WINDING ROAD.

But, I honestly think Lee Brice nailed it when he recorded “Love like Crazy”

Be a best friend, tell the truth
And overuse I love you
Go to work, do your best
Don't outsmart your commonsense
Never let your prayin' knees get lazy
And love like crazy!

30 years later
a little worse for wear
but, still together!
Love you, Boss! 

…from this day forward...


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Walkabout 9-21

a Monarch flying past one of the compost piles

This week we found that cleaning, yes, CLEANING, can affect the entire farm.

This week, the Boss finally got around to cleaning out the barn. This time there was no messing around, he took it down to dirt where the sheep spend the winter.  (Last year, we didn’t get a chance to do a thorough cleaning and if the waste hay piled up much more, the sheep were going to hit the inside of the roof!)

When I got back from town on Monday, barn-cleaning was in full swing.  He had already taken countless loads out to the compost pile between the gardens.

He had also started another project.  Because one thing ALWAYS leads to another!  To make cleaning easier, he removed the back wall from the sheep shed.  Then, he realized that he could take the unused doors from another part of the barn and put them on the shed.  This would allow some much needed light and make any future cleaning much easier. This is just the latest in modifications to the barn.  You might like to read this.

The cleaning didn’t get finished on Monday, as we had an engagement to attend.  And, since it was in town, it certainly wouldn’t do to arrive smelling like the barn.  Which, I might add, the entire farm did by this point. (and not a nice clean barn, either!  blech)

TLeightonWomackPhotography image

Our engagement in town was to act on behalf of the Market to receive an achievement award from the Staunton Downtown Development Association. For over 20 years, the Market has been a vital part of the eclectic atmosphere that has gotten Staunton recognized nationwide as “one of the best small towns in America” among other things.  Yay, Staunton!  Yay, Farmers’ Market! (and thanks to Sarah B for the recommendation) You can visit Staunton virtually HERE.

But, talk about feeling out of place!  Two old farmers in a wine bar?  Well, at least we wore our CLEAN boots.
Yelping Dog Wine - Staunton, VA
-TLeightonWomackPhotography image

Back at the farm, the cleaning continued.  By day two, it was time for me to pitch in and work on the corners so the Boss could get the job finished.  We now have two enormous piles composting away that will be used to add nutrients to next year’s gardens.

…and unfortunately, the entire place still smells like a barn! Although, it’s getting better.  Or, maybe my nose is just getting used to it.
the clean barn
compost pile steaming in the cool of early morning

All that cleaning and de-construction meant that there was a bunch of junk that needed to go to…you guessed it…the dump.  How we need to go to the dump so often is beyond me, but to the dump we went. We found that they’ve changed the rules to the dump and without a dumpbody truck or trailer, you are no longer allowed to go out to the landfill part of the dump, you just put the junk in the big dumpsters and they take it out to the landfill.  Oh, what a disappointment!

A requisite trip to Lowes for hinges and odds and ends and the barn will be ready for winter.
still needs some work

On to other things…

The usual line-up of planting, picking, clearing, tilling, weeding and battling bugs continued.
We found a toad in the hoophouse
I'm hoping he/she is eating the "bad guys"!
We processed the green beans leftover from the Market, so now we have plenty of green beans for our Winter Customers.
MORE greenbeans
...and they're still coming!
fall potatoes
aren't they pretty?
The Boss started digging the fall potatoes this week and the winter squash are just waiting for our attention. The seedstock for next year’s green garlic arrived…and we got a flat of strawberries from a fellow market vendor…so, the upcoming week promises more of the same.

Yeah, the same old same old… 
seems someone is always watching us

Hey, wait a minute!

As I was heading back to the processing shed from the hoophouses/garden on one of my countless trips during harvest, something looked just a little bit odd…something (or someone) was out of place. 

When the Boss was cleaning the barn, he must have forgotten to re-attach the fence at the barn wall. I didn’t know this and turned the lambs in the alley to graze and they discovered the gap in the fence.

Yikes!  Lambs don’t belong roaming around that side of the barn!

They saw me and started following me toward the house.  Double yikes! 

suddenly I felt like 'lil Bo Peep

When I hollered for the Boss, Gus and Ellie came galloping over.  It was apparent that Gus was thinking “cool, let’s play guys!” as he ran toward the lambs.  The lambs were having none of that and headed toward the barn.  (thankfully) The Boss and I got them corralled quickly and he fixed the fence and the excitement was over before it started.

 Gee, that barn cleaning affected the entire week!

By then, it was time for another Market.  This time it really felt like fall as I pulled out of the driveway.  It was cold and dark…and really foggy.  The fog wasn't as bad in town, and once the sun came out, it was a gorgeous day.  I guess the cold and dark slowed the customers down some.  The Market didn’t get hopping until after 10 o’clock.  But, it turned out to be a great day.

Just NINE more markets for the 2014 season…

 …and that, my friends, was the week on the hill.

Thank you so much for stopping by!

Have a Happy Sunday!

Hope you’ll come back and visit us again real soon.