Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Walkabout 10-25

Another week of October is gone…

I had great hopes for incredible productivity. I was going to plant and weed and clean and file and…

I woke up in the middle of night with the sore throat of all sore throats. It felt as if my throat had been slit from ear to ear and salt poured in the wound. It hurt to breathe, it hurt to swallow. I wanted to cry, but it hurt too badly. What voice I had was just a croaky whisper.

I hadn’t lost my voice since Toughchick and the Man got married back in ’09.  I’m guessing the Boss welcomed the silence, (for some reason, some people seem to think I talk a lot) it was more than a little frustrating to have to attempt to say everything nine times when it was painful even to whisper. I really wished we had learned sign language back in the days of homeschooling!

I got absolutely nothing done as I crashed on the couch. And, when I thought I’d made some miraculous recovery and had the motivation to do something, I had to sit down and rest when I came back from the barn. And, unfortunately, since we are rarely sick, almost every cold remedy I found had expired YEARS ago. (Note to self: inventory and re-stock the medicine cabinet on a somewhat regular basis.)

So, I must admit…I didn’t have a real productive week.

On the positive side, I did indeed recover and while I felt like a slacker, the Boss definitely had a productive week! 

starting the project

He finally got to that fencing job at the top of the drive. I can’t tell you how many years he’s talked about doing this project. There is nothing like a nice, new, tight fence to make a farmer proud.
ready to go

setting posts

work continues

Not only does it look nice, replace the old electro-net that I always get tangled up in, and keep the lambs out of the driveway, there is now a gate up near the top of the upper garden. This might not sound like much, but it means that you don’t have to walk all the way around the garden area to get to the driveway. Maybe that makes me sound lazy, but when the FedEx guy is standing there waiting because he needs a signature and the dogs are bouncing around barking at him, that extra walking seems to take forever. This job just solidified his great appreciation of his new fencing tool, and I think there are more projects in the offing.

nice, tight fence

...and a gate!

It would have been a nice week for our annual “day-off/trip over the mountain” for the Boss’ birthday, but we will try again this week. And, the sugar maple leaves in the backyard made for some pretty shots. Because that’s about as far as I made it for a good portion of the week.

The predicted cold temperatures that I wrote of last week really did come to pass. It was 27* degrees here on Monday morning. That seems like it would kill everything everywhere, and it certainly looked frozen when we went out to do chores.

hoarfrost in the garden

the broccoli plants were pretty frozen

the whole garden looks frozen

peppers look pretty edged with frost

While the peppers and the basil finally hit the end of their run, and the squash plants simply melted into the landscape, the broccoli/cauliflower/cabbage all thawed out nicely by noon and were ready for harvest later in the week. The cold will slow things down considerably, but since the brassicas are so hardy we should be able to harvest until at least the end of the Market season.

slight frost damage to broccoli leaves

beautiful broccoli
cold doesn't hurt turnips

peppers didn't fare so well
really glad we don't subsist on roses!

 As a matter of fact, the Brussels sprouts are just now ready for harvest.
October 23, 2015
ready for harvest

September 4, 2014

For us, Brussels sprouts are one of those crops that we love to hate. It seems so unpredictable as to whether or not it will be a good year. Last year, after the Gus attack, the plants grew strong and tall and straight and were loaded with plump, delicious sprouts. We started selling them in mid-September and the harvest was prolific …until the killer freeze just before the end of the Market. It was 12* one night and we lost everything that was still in the field. The stalks to the Brussels sprouts froze---froze solid. When they thawed out, not only were the sprouts ruined, the stalks themselves, that could ordinarily be substituted for baseball bats because they are so hard, were nothing but mush.

This year’s growing conditions were completely different. This year was incredibly wet and dark by comparison and the plants grew long and leafy, never attaining that stocky stature necessary to stand up to the winds here on the hill. We tended the plants, pulled off the lower leaves to encourage sprout development and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Then, the cold, driving wind and rain we had a couple of weeks ago tipped all the top-heavy plants sideways. For the most part, they look like giant, leafy, misshapen “C’s” out there in the garden. Some of them succumbed to the weather, and there is the distinct odor of rotting cabbage. (UGH)  The Boss kept making dire threats to pull them out. I didn’t argue too much, the garden has reached that messy stage where I’m ready to take a torch or a bushhog to the whole thing and start fresh next season. However, he never got around to making good on his threat.

Imagine my surprise when I finally got the energy to return to the garden to see that there were indeed Brussels sprouts ready for harvest! Five weeks later than last year. They are on the small side, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the customers. There were quite a few (and we sold them all) and if the weather cooperates (this time we need RAIN) there should be some for the rest of the Market season.  

This is just one example of how growing conditions vary from year to year affecting the yield of our crops. Both years we used the same seeds, started them in the same manner (except for Gus) planted them out at the same time and followed the same maintenance program. It all comes down to the weather. …and nobody can do anything about the weather!

This does raise the question…is it time to stop attempting to grow Brussels sprouts? That will indeed be a topic for this year’s planning meeting.

Yes, it really was pitch black at the Market when we set up!

Despite the DARK start to the Market day, which apparently kept many customers asleep much later than normal, it was another great day. Except that I am pretty sure I answered the question, “is this the last market of the season?” ten thousand times. (okay, definite exaggeration…but I did lose count)
Our Market runs until the week before Thanksgiving and has for years. Maybe fifteen years, I don’t remember.  And, yes, I know it gets cold in November. Believe me, I KNOW…we’ve been at the Market when the high temperature never reached freezing! And, for the record, it IS possible to have LOCAL produce for the Market in November. The varieties are limited, but it is definitely possible. And, while doing the Market in November has its very definite down-sides, it can be profitable as well. So, yeah…we’ll be hanging out in the Wharf on Saturday mornings for a few more weeks.

I don't mind having work piled up when it looks like this!
winter lettuce transplants waiting to go to the hoophouse
Despite my lack of productivity all week, it was indeed a successful Market. And, hopefully we can get back on track in the week ahead. Hoophouse planting and some clean-up should be on the docket. Maybe we’ll get to take that little trip over the mountain after all. Rain is in the forecast as well, so it may be time to get to all those inside jobs…

Hope you have a Happy Sunday! 

The kids (and grandkids) are all coming later for a family supper for the Boss’ birthday, so that should be a fun way to start our week.

Thanks for stopping by! Come visit us again real soon.
It's definitely looking like fall here on the hill!

Want to visit the Market virtually? Here are the Boss’ pics from this week.


  1. Awwww, so sorry you were sick. Next time gargle with warm salt water. It works wonders! Oh and make lots of funny faces, stretch your neck, make bullfrog faces, etc. Breaks up all the bacteria in the throat and the salt water can get in there and kill it. Then just spit it out and do it again. I swear by that and elderberry syrup.

    Love your updates, except when you are not feeling good. Feel better.

    1. Thanks SO much for your kind words and concern, Bobbi!
      I completely forgot about salt water. When I'm sick, it's like can't remember anything. I ended up using a combination of elderberry and goldenseal and garlic.
      Thankfully, the sore throat didn't last but a day. The cough and lack of energy were considerably harder to shake. I don't get sick very often and am always frustrated that I don't have superhuman healing powers. lol
      Pretty much back to "normal" now, so we'll see what happens.
      Have a great week!

  2. Very nice article Barbara,
    Keep posting such blogs.

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words!
      Please keep reading. :)