Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday Walkabout 10-15




Bad news is everywhere. Natural disasters, random acts of violence and a continual string of horrible injustices perpetrated on unsuspecting people. And, that doesn’t even include politics. It’s disheartening. It’s depressing. And, there’s not a thing I can do about any of it.

Oh, I know you can write letters to your representatives and you can get out and vote your conscience. Speak out when bad things happen to you and others. Donate to charity.  You can lend an ear to listen and a shoulder to lean on and hugs are always welcome. But, in the long run, I honestly wonder if it all matters. Because, the bad news just keeps coming.

So, I’m wracking my brain here for something upbeat and different. Something that will make someone smile and distract my own mind from the dark and dreary corners to which it seems inexorably drawn.

...and all I’ve got is Gus...


For those of you who may not know, Gus is our Great Pyrenees. Defender of the farm, guardian of the sheep,...and goof-ball extraordinaire.

Borrowing a line from the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”, Gus is one of the “characters around here givin’ the place at-mosphere”. He’s been featured in the farm blog in the past... (you might want to read these) https://homesteadhillfarm.blogspot.com/2013/10/like-big-dog.html   https://homesteadhillfarm.blogspot.com/2014/05/thursday-thankful-gus-edition.html  https://homesteadhillfarm.blogspot.com/2014/10/a-friday-funny-new-project-for-gus.html Fortunately for all involved, he outgrew his propensity for chewing up the odd and random (plant flats, trailer parts, the dryer vent) and for all appearances seems to be doing his job.

He has finally assimilated into his role as sole guardian of the farm after Ellie’s death earlier this year. Although visitations from the tiny humans still seem to perplex him. (that may be understandable)

MrB thought it was great fun to be captured
by the giant chicken-catching net
I think Gus sees himself as some sort of “super-hero” dog, rescuing us from the unseen threats of farm-life.
"I heard something..."
Yes, he IS standing on his hind legs and opening the gate!

"Here I come to save the day!" 

"He needed me, Mama...he really did!"

hmm, this isn't supposed to be opened...

GUS!
 Gus...where are you?

this time the spent cornstalks needed "protection"

However, even Superman had his Kryptonite.















For Gus, it’s the doggie nail clippers (and loud noises, but that’s the subject of another post).









If you need to make a 125-pound dog disappear, you simply pull the tiny clippers off the hook in the utility room. He does not have to see them, he can apparently hear the sound as they slip into my pocket. And, it causes his personality to change and he suddenly goes AWOL.


Now, I could go the rest of my life without doing doggie pedicures. Really. But, the Pyrenees have these giant dewclaws on their back feet that need some regular maintenance. The claws were apparently necessary at one point in their evolution so they could balance as they stood on their back feet and fought predators, mainly bears. Bears? (yeah, really) Now, if we ever find ourselves in a situation where it is necessary for Gus to stand upright on his back feet and fight bears, I am certain that we will BOTH be looking for a new line of work...and perhaps a new location. But, I digress.

These giant claws have a propensity for growth and curl around and around and eventually dig into the tender skin of the foot pads and cause great discomfort along with the potential for infection of the broken skin. Veterinarians do not suggest removing these claws as that can cause another set of problems. So, put another thing on the “to-do list”.

it curls around in a complete circle

Sensing the clippers in my pocket, Gus is no longer the friendly sidekick who wants his ears rubbed while we wait for the stocktank to fill. He is simply nowhere to be seen. Seriously, he disappears. 
Now, that feat in and of itself is astounding. You try hiding a huge, white, hairy dog in plain sight.
maybe I can sneak up on him...

Once located, he kept his distance. He knew I had those clippers and I can only surmise that he felt some real affection for his toenails, because he was not letting me near them. He would let me hold his paw, only to jump away in abject terror as I reached for my back pocket.

Even doggie treats had lost their appeal as the dance seemed to continue without end. One step toward him...he was off to race around the orchard, then he would touch his nose to my hand, only to dart away again. This was getting old. I sat down in one last attempt to capture him, hoping that he would follow his usual behavior and come to see what I was doing. I only had to make the two teeny, tiny clips and be done with the job.

“Oh, my gosh...are you all right? WHAT are you doing?”

The Boss’ voice shocked me out of my reverie about my next move in this dance of ridiculous-ness.

He knew nothing of my attempts at a doggie pedicure, so  when he found me sitting on the ground next to the fence his concern was understandable.

Of course, Gus had to see what was up since both his humans were in the same spot at the same time. That gave the Boss time to grab him.

Snip. Snip. The job was done.

Honestly. That was it. All that hoopla for two little...well, actually...two enormous toenails.



Gus spent the next 10 minutes looking for his lost body parts. And, you thought perhaps I overstated his goof-ball status.
"I know they're here somewhere..."

But, fortunately that job is done for a while!

That’s the kind of stuff that goes on around here all the time. We don’t have to make any effort for “mindfulness” or attempt to live an “authentic” life. This is it. Forget the news of the day…the minutiae of daily life is more than enough to occupy our minds…and try our patience.

So, I guess we should be truly grateful for Gus and his goofy antics.

And, there are other farm-related things to occupy our minds should we choose to change our focus.

As the calendar moves ever forward, it’s time to be thinking ahead to next year’s crops. The garlic seedstock arrived and the Boss made the first pass at readying the planting beds.

cleaning up the garden
getting ready for 2018 garlic planting

2018 seedstock

The fall brassica harvest is finally beginning.

isn't this broccoli beautiful?


The hens are continuing to clean up the middle garden space.

except for this girl...
she's gone broody and wants to sit on all the eggs

It looks like all is quiet (and complete) on the sheep breeding front.

late day sheep siesta

And, while I realize we should make every attempt to curtail the thistle growth, at least the goldfinches are enjoying this year’s bumper crop.

I love the goldfinches!

After weeks of drought, where each falling leaf seemed to be a whispered prayer for rain, we saw some sort of precipitation every single day. That is a good news, bad news kind of thing.

The good news is obvious.  It’s relatively wet. (at least the vegetation)  The bad news insidious and may be overlooked. Again, the vegetation is relatively wet...(and I’ll leave that one right there).

a slug enjoying a dewy broccoli leaf

Surprisingly, we seem to be the only part of the county that is experiencing the dark, damp conditions. That must have to do with elevation. We sit right about 2,000 feet above sea-level here on the hill. That’s nearly 600 feet higher than Staunton and many of the other surrounding towns. So, our weather is often quite different than it is anywhere else.
dark and damp

garden after rain

Every morning for the past week, we’ve felt like we were trapped inside the clouds, dewdrops clinging to every surface. This doesn’t change until at least mid-afternoon, when the sun bursts forth, bringing with it a brilliant October day. Although the temperatures have felt more August-like…it was 82* several days. The moisture is actually too little, too late and won’t bring any amazing late season production.
lovely afternoon

late day Mbrk  

Saturday’s Market began with the same cool, dark conditions. It seemed that many customers must have taken advantage of the opportunity to sleep in…it took a long time to begin a steady flow of sales. We’ve reached that point of the season where customer traffic has gotten somewhat sparse. A lot of folks give up the Market once summer veggies like corn and tomatoes are gone. Although there are others who are stocking up for winter and trying to buy in bulk, so it all evens out in the end.

ready for sales

I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’m just hanging on for the last five Markets of 2017. This year we will just be thankful we got through the season and work on planning for next year…

…and that’s all folks!

Thanks for reading.

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

so pretty!


Come back and “visit” us again real soon.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sunday Walkabout 10-8



Words have failed me today. Utterly and completely.

I do want to say THANK YOU for all the support and kindness this week. It means the world to me!

Now...here is the week in photos. You see if you can figure out what's been happening on the hill.





















Hope you have a Happy Sunday! 



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


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sunday Walkabout 10-1


October 1st

There’s a nip in the air. The leaves are starting to turn. It is definitely fall.

When I saw that the forecast included a chance of FROST, I was not so secretly wishing for a heavy, killing frost. One that would finally, once and for all, put the garden out of its misery. Out of my misery. Just go ahead and finish it.

‘cause I’m done.

Done.

I am just SO done with this season.

one last tomato

This has been one tough growing season (not just for us) and at this point, the end of the Market still seems so distant. Personally, I would just like to call it quits and try a whole new, fresh start next season. This one is just too far gone to salvage.

most of the garden is sad and gross
like this tomato

As you are probably aware, the season got off to a rough and rocky start. Read this one.  And, while we got beyond that obstacle, and the Boss has healed nicely, we never really regained our momentum.

The weather, with its weird unpredictability, hasn’t helped anything. New plant diseases created unsolved challenges and more than one research project for the off-season. We have confronted issues with the animals never seen before here on the hill. Changing customer patterns at the Market have us stymied. The Boss’ health issues continue to worry at the edges of our minds as we always seem to be waiting for the next scan.

the butternut squash are rotting
...from the inside...
ewwww!

rats continue to be a problem
this time they ATE the ram marker
somewhere there is a little rat with bright yellow teeth
(and a tummy ache)

slim pickin's at the Market




Add to this a couple of ongoing niggling health issues that I haven’t been able to shake, and it is no wonder that I’m simply over the whole thing. The neck/shoulder injury from last spring was exacerbated by each and every movement of my right arm. The weekly lettuce picking was excruciating. When heat, pests and disease became an issue in the hoophouse, there was little incentive to continue. We found ourselves letting things go.

We let a lot of things go…

But, that made the whole situation even more concerning. I began an existential crisis. Maybe I lost my “mojo” completely and I found myself wondering aloud if a complete life change should be considered. That has led to more than one uncomfortable, slightly argumentative discussion with the Boss. But, then, what in the world would we do? ...I mean, this place, this life, defines US.

I haven’t felt good in a long time. A very long time. I’m actually at the point where I can’t remember the last time I did feel good. There was a time when I felt positive and upbeat about all this. I’m certain it wasn’t my a dim and distant memory or a trick of my imagination. (stupid Facebook reminds me of those great times every single day…and that is not helping at all) When it wasn’t a struggle to get through the work day when I could come up with something to write about and it actually felt like we had accomplished something by the end of the week. However. Those days seem long gone.

I’ve just lost it. Whatever it is. Be it my “mojo” or my “joi de vivre”, or my “groove” ...something is sorely lacking. I hurt. I’m tired and grumpy and uninspired. Every single task seems to meet with an insurmountable obstacle. Not only is that depressing to live...it’s even more depressing to write about. Writing is generally my catharsis, my joy, but when every page seems to include “I don’t know.... I just don’t know...” I can’t bring myself type it, let alone hit “publish”.  And, I certainly can’t tell our customers, “Lettuce? (greens, whatever) I don’t care about no stinkin’ lettuce (greens, whatever)!” (although, quite honestly, the thought did cross my mind)

So, well...humph...now what?

More than once I sought medical assistance. And more than once I followed advice only to end up in the exact same place. Aggravatingly, I thought I knew what was causing the pain, I just couldn’t find a professional who concurred. Hormones, supplements, tests...and still it continued.

Finally, a new doc. She listened and sent me for a different test.

When I got the results, I nearly cried. Not because it said, “large cyst”. Not because there was a slight possibility that this time I was going to be facing “the big scary”.   And, not because she (the doc) was ever so gently trying to prepare me for the likelihood of surgery in my future.

No, the emotion was triggered by the fact that I was right. There was indeed something wrong with me. (the very thing that I supposed from the beginning) It wasn’t all in my head. I wasn’t slacking, and my "mojo" hadn’t been lost completely. I certainly wasn’t doomed to remain a grumpy, old curmudgeon forever. (well, I can hope)

misty, early morning Mbrk


moonrise at sunset
September skies

lamb "ballet"

first frost
10-1
While farm work here on the hill continues to move at a crawl, I had what may have been a life-changing appointment. This week I met with the surgeon who will remove the offending cyst and hopefully give me back my life. As we talked over the issue at hand, I told him that everything just seemed so “hard”, that I was SO tired...

He cocked his head and looked at me over his glasses. “Well, you’ve got the equivalent to a baseball in your belly. I guess things do seem hard!”

A baseball?

Well, then. That explains everything!

You try carrying around a baseball for a while (not even in your belly). It’s annoying, it’s tiring and in my case, I cannot set it down or get away from it. Since it’s on an ovary, it is also messing up my hormone levels and interfering with my digestive system.

That’s why all the bending of picking and planting has been so difficult. That explains why nothing feels right and why I find myself sitting down so often. The chronic, inescapable pain makes it impossible to fully concentrate. It is understandable that I just don’t feel like doing anything. It should come as no surprise that I don’t seem to care about much.

But, help is in sight. I go in for surgery on November 10th. (I am counting down the days) In case you’re wondering…the bloodwork indicates that it is NOT “the big scary”. (yay for that)

For now, it’s all about enduring. Hanging in there until I can get resolution. Pushing forward though to the end of the season. Being positive about what we can get done. That may be a challenge.

I know, I know, recovery will be part of the deal, too…(but, after all this time, I figure it should be a piece of cake)

seedstock garlic
time to plant for green garlic in the Spring

the hens started their annual garden clean-up

lambs racing to supper
picking green beans again


I tell you this story not to garner your sympathy, or worry any of you. I'm not asking for help or advice. Although I wouldn’t be opposed to prayers for endurance. Six weeks seems like such a long time to wait. (but it’s nothing compared to how long this has already been)

pretty sunset

I tell you this because I want you to know that if you think something is wrong with you…follow through on it. You’re probably right.  If you ask enough people, you will surely find a solution.

You should also know that there are often things going on with others behind the scenes, beneath the surface, unbeknownst to anyone else…that have far-reaching effects. 


And, maybe now our lettuce customers will have a little sympathy and realize that I’m not just slacking…and I do care about your lettuce. (just not this season)

Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening.



Hope you have a Happy Sunday! 



Come back and “visit” us again real soon.