Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 7-31

There are finally tomatoes!
As another week slides into obscure history, I am left wondering…

Where did the time go?

And WHAT did I accomplish?
I did inadvertently trap a 'possum
in my quest to catch the enormous groundhog at the barn

Because, while I distinctly remember working hard enough to get really hot and really sweaty…there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot to show for it.

the full veggie stand at the beginning of the day
But, then, that could be because we sold most of the fruits of our labors at Saturday’s crazy-busy Farmers’ Market.  That’s the story I’m going with. Otherwise, I really don’t have much to show for the 168 hours of the past week.
that's all that we left behind...

as we headed home...

One of my favorite guys came to visit us at the Market
(this time last year we were still waiting to meet him)

steamy morning
The hot and humid weather continued, without much relief in the way of rain. It’s frustrating to watch the storms pop up on the horizon and fizzle out before they get here. It’s discouraging to be able to smell the fresh dampness of rain in the breeze and have it pass on by. But, we did get a couple little showers and the moisture didn’t come with damaging floods and power outages like it did other places…so we will be grateful for that!  
another storm passed us by
but, there's a faint rainbow!

I’d like to see the change in the weather that the forecasters talked about. We really need to get rid of some old ewes, but it doesn’t seem prudent to take them to the stockyard when it’s hot as blazes. And, we need to get the fall brassica crop in the ground, but there’s no sense in doing that while it’s hot, either.  And, we were beginning to think that the heat was affecting egg production…

Egg numbers have been dwindling and it was time to resolve that issue, because we were pretty sure there was more to it than hot weather and slightly shortened days. There was more than a little evidence that someone was eating the profits. There are few things more irritating to me than an egg-eating hen.

Hens are fairly disgusting. (sorry poultry lovers…but, it’s the truth) They will eat anything. And, I mean anything. They have been known to eat each other. Some of them particularly like eggs. This is why we use nest boxes where the eggs roll out from under the hen and into a little tray where the hens (theoretically) can’t reach.

working on the henhouse
But, it’s been nearly five years since the Boss re-furbished an old horse trailer and made it into a super-duper henhouse (read about it HERE)  and we were probably past due for a little maintenance. Those “roll-out” nest boxes that were so revolutionary years ago had begun to bend and break and we were in serious need of new ones.

In shopping for those, he discovered a whole new unit that may just be a better solution all around.

So, an order was placed and a little assembly work done.

installing the new nestbox unit

1st hen to try it out

And, we will see if this solves the problem. If so, I will have material for a new blog post.

If not, I’m guessing we’ll be taking some hens on a “field-trip” to the zoo. (one way, of course) Did you read  this one?

In other farm news, it’s almost “Happy Ram” day here on the hill.
anticipating things to come

I love a new box of crayons!

Around August 1, we turn the ram in with the ewes in hopes of producing the lambchop crop for the following season. A fresh box of ram markers arrived the other day, so we’re just waiting for the proper time. I’m pretty sure Angus can sense that the time is getting closer…he’s been a lot more vocal lately. He is also rather “odoriferous” and grumpy.

I think it’s safe to say that we’re all looking forward to the upcoming week!

Here’s hoping for a change in the weather…there’s LOTS to do. 

there are about 1,000 fall brassicas in the greenhouse
We need to move sheep, haul ewes, plant the fall brassica crop, and pick up that batch of lambs we took to the processor’s…just to name a few things. And, I still haven't gotten the pickles done or frozen any peaches...
I did have a cute little helper on Friday afternoon---
won't be long until he can do chores by himself!

Guess I better get crackin’.

Hope you’re having a

Happy Sunday! 

Good morning!

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

Did you want to see what you missed at the Farmers' Market?  Here is the link to the Boss' shots for the week. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 7-24

look closely...
there's a rainbow!
things can't be that bad...

I’m hot.
temperatures in the mid 90's
with humidity around 50%

I’m tired.

…and the weeds and bugs are threatening to overwhelm me…

the little black things are flea beetles
the holes are what they ate in a matter of HOURS



That’s no news. And, I’m pretty sure it’s not what you came to read.

It’s just July.

I always feel this way in July.

This is the time of year when it’s really (really) difficult to keep going. But, there are still succession plantings to seed and fall crops to plant. Any preparations for winter sales need to be happening now. RIGHT NOW. There are piles of vegetables that need processing and battles with pests that must be won. The animals (and crops) need extra care in the hot, dry weather. So, despite the heat and the bugs, we must keep going.
trellising tomatoes

But, I must admit, it’s kind of hard to hear everyone talk about taking their “much-needed vacation” knowing that…well, I’ve got squash to pick or beans to can or pickles to make…or something garden-related that demands my attention RIGHT NOW. Because, around here, v-a-c-a-t-i-o-n is just a word…not a reality.
my claim about cucumbers is proving true...
non-trellised cukes (gross!)

trellised cukes

Although, the Boss considers it a “mini-vacation” when we take lambs to the processor (or pick up the lambchops). So, I guess my claim is invalid. However, a trip on the interstate with lambs in the trailer isn’t at all relaxing! (or maybe I’m just seriously uptight) And a trip to Edinburg to drop of lambs topped our to-do list for the week.

“Vacation” or not, the trip very nearly didn’t even happen at all. We had the day all planned, we would haul the lambs, make a detour around the road construction, get some lunch and pick up the farm truck from the inspection place where we had left it the day before (they were busy and we didn’t have time to wait around) and get back to our regularly scheduled activities. Cool…good plan.

Lamb hauling day dawned. The lambs were at the barn. Everything was a go.
ready to go


The trailer hitch for the xterra was sitting in the truck. The truck that was at the inspection station in Draft. Which meant our carefully made plans were suddenly not going to work. Because it’s really hard to pull a trailer without a hitch. And, if we were going to get the hitch, we might as well pick up the truck, so we had to wait for the place to open…
but, if we hadn't gone out so early,
we would have missed seeing...


...seemed pretty appropriate during the "full buck moon"

I had visions of “one of those kind of days”, which (thankfully) did not prove to be the case. The trip itself (with its interstate travel) was completely uneventful and we got the lambs delivered to the processor’s before the sweltering July heat became an issue.

heatwave map from the National Weather Service
(according to this, we're not even all that hot!)
And, the July heat is indeed an issue. Not just here, but everywhere. The entire country seems to be experiencing a heatwave. A serious heatwave. Here in the Valley, it feels like we’re cooking. It’s really hot and really humid and everything is drying out in the baking sun.

corn is growing great!

But, it is July.

July means it’s time to plant the fall potatoes. 

 ready for planting
we put in 250# of seed potatoes

So, heatwave or not…dry and dusty or not…the Boss got to tilling.
first pass with the tiller
see the dust?

While he tilled, I salvaged what I could off the broken peach tree out back. The few peaches looked beautiful, but the Japanese beetles arrived in force last week, (and the tree finally broke completely) so it was now or never. I left the peaches to ripen fully in a box in the shop. In reality, the peaches aren’t really so beautiful, they’ve got bad places and bugs…but, considering that they’re the only fruit we will have this year, I’m thankful for them. Working them up will be a project for later.
Japanese beetles don't leave much for us

Planting the potatoes is pretty much the same as planting the Spring potatoes (and every other potato planting). Once they were all “plunked”, he ran back through with the tractor and hilled them up. Every time he does this, I have to give thanks. For years and years, we did all that work by hand and I am SO thankful we don’t have to do it that way anymore.

laying out the rows

all the "plunked" potatoes

finished project
(see the Boss WAY out there, picking beans?)

With the potato planting finished, we could pick beans (again) and begin to pray for rain. We don’t irrigate the potato gardens, so we are dependent upon the skies for natural water. The forecast wasn’t looking too promising. But, we were grateful for a small shower on Thursday evening and hope to have new potatoes in about 60 to 80 days.

afternoon rain

potato garden after the rain

and, just like that…it was time for Market once more.
even without tomatoes sales were great!
(and the tomatoes are coming...)

The heat certainly didn’t keep the customers away and it was another great day for sales! There weren’t a lot of leftovers (which is a good thing). But, there were enough for us to put up for winter. Pickles and relish are among my “things to do” for the upcoming week. …and maybe some canned squash and frozen zucchini…

'cause "vacay"...? We don't even know the meaning of the word!

isn't she cute?

Remy hopes you’re having a 

Happy Sunday! 

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

this may be my last post for a while...
my desk seems to be possessed by a crazy kitten!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Walkabout 7-17

Good Morning!
Another week of summer has slipped by in a blur of picking, planting and processing…the sameness of the season.

green beans for Winter
We picked at least one hundred pounds of green beans this week! 

We haven’t had such an abundance of green beans in years.

 But, this planting is just about finished. (yay…those long rows are murderous on one’s back) It’s time to bush-hog those beans and plant the fall ‘taters.  

Not to worry about a shortage of green beans, though. There are itty, bitty beans that should be ready for next Saturday’s Market.

We plan on getting the potatoes in the ground by mid-week so they will be ready for harvest in October. Those will carry us (and our customers) through the Winter.

And, if you were wondering…nope, still haven’t gotten all the Spring-planted potatoes harvested. There just aren’t enough hours in the day sometimes. But, it won’t hurt them to stay in the ground a while longer.

But, the real news this week is that we finally got something that I have wanted for a long, long time. And, when I tell you what it is, you will realize just how “different” I really am.

The acquisition that made my week? 

A creep feeder.
I am all kinds of excited about this purchase!

I’ve been wanting another creep feeder for quite some time, but both the budget and availability were working against me. It can be difficult to find equipment that’s small enough for our operation and can be used for sheep. And, well, I guess the whole budget thing needs no explaining…

A creep feeder allows the smaller animals (in our case the lambs) constant access to grain. This produces a great growth rate during those first couple of months in the early Spring since they don’t have to battle with the ewes for food. Once they get some size to them and the grass is growing well, we stop using the creep feeder and just call them in for feed twice a day. The continued feeding assures that they are getting essential nutrients and allows us to monitor for flock health. But, by cutting down on constant access, we also cut down on the feed bill.

With an eye to growing more lambs for 2017, we needed more feeder space. So, I was thrilled when the feed store started stocking feeders. However, feeders don’t come cheap. And I had to convince the Boss of our need…

But, finally everything worked together and Valley Feed dropped off my new feeder on Monday morning. THANKS Y’ALL! Now, to get the barn rearranged and the feeder in place. Because it really isn't going to work sitting out there in front of the barn.  

With the new ewes and the new feeder, we are poised to have what promises to be our biggest lambing season ever. And, it's just two weeks until we will begin working on the lambchop crop of 2017. Or, I should say Angus will begin working… (if he only knew what was ahead!)

This week was also another “week of the chicken”. 
getting ready to process broilers

scalding the first bird

chicken FEET

catching broilers to move outside

broilers in pasture pen

thirsty broiler baby

Once a month, it seems like everything revolves around the broilers as we process broilers, move broilers and receive broilers. The whole process went pretty smoothly this month. The scalder didn’t catch fire (like last month) and it didn’t take five hours for the chicks to arrive from town (that happened in March). AND, we added chicken feet to our product line. I don’t think that’s something I want to try, personally…but, in the spirit of “give the customer what they want…” we’ll give it a go. (and we have already sold some)

Saturday’s Market was amazing. Again. 

I never expected to see a Scarlet Macaw at the Market!
This is "Nutty"
(I don't know if he/she was looking for tomatoes)
But, EVERYONE is looking for tomatoes. And, all I can say is…ME, TOO! From what I’ve heard, this year is not going to be an outstanding tomato year. 

Everyone who grows field tomatoes has some sort of tale of woe. But, as long as we get tomatoes…
there actually are tomatoes coming along...

One of the local ladies told me a story of Mbrk’s “tomato-less” summer back in the day. They planted over and over, but the weather just didn’t cooperate. (something about frost in JUNE) And, then pest or disease affected the rest of the crop. Now this occurred at least 50 years ago, but the memory still lingers. (here’s hoping history does not repeat itself!)

it didn't take much convincing to get the lambs to head to the barn
As choretime approached, so did a thunderstorm. the race was neck and neck, but we got inside just before the downpour began. We didn’t get a lot of rain, but there was flooding in the north end of the county. It always amazes me how different the weather can be nearby.

And, that was it. Another week for the history books.

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

Fresh Grass!
That's how the ewes have a "happy Sunday"!

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

Visit the Market virtually HERE.